Although most archival records are created to accomplish a practical, utilitarian purpose, this essay explores some of the more "symbolic" aspects of recordmaking and recordkeeping. It argues that archivists should understand such issues as: the mixture of practical and symbolic values in records; the effects of symbolic meaning on the forms that records take; the occasions when the act of recordmaking is more significant than the record itself; the ceremonial uses of records; and both the reverence for and the hatred of records as objects.

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