During a recent digitization project involving archivists and theater faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), different assumptions and perspectives revealed competing ideas about context and authenticity of primary sources. This article discusses these points of contention by framing them within similar concerns expressed in the archival and humanities literature. It then examines theater literature to understand performance studies research needs and to conceptualize notions of context and authenticity in theater scholarship. The article supports prior assertions that notions of context and authenticity are not absolute but are rooted in the perspectives of different disciplines. It also argues that when collaborating with other disciplines on digital projects, archivists should be considerate of their perspectives, research needs, and intended audiences to create a product that best meets user needs.

The arrival of the Internet and scanning technology in the 1990s made possible the growth of archival digitization projects. These technologies have allowed archivists to provide remote access to primary sources and facilitate scholarship on a global scale. Digitized primary sources are increasingly used in classroom teaching, and humanities scholars across disciplines have compiled primary and secondary sources themed on specific subjects into creative, scholarly, online resources. These trends have transformed what was previously called “humanities computing” into “digital humanities,” which has been thought of as “a nexus of fields within which scholars use computing technologies to investigate the kinds of questions that are traditional to the humanities, or . . . ask traditional kinds of humanities-oriented questions about computing technologies.”1 Digital humanities scholarship is placed at “the locations at which specific disciplinary practices intersect with computation,” with the goals of “using information technology to illuminate the human record, and bringing an understanding of the human record to bear on the development and use of information technology.”2

Traditionally associated with English and history, digital humanities is now practiced in other fields such as musicology, media studies, and performance studies, including theater.3 While digital humanities offers a rich area of collaboration between archivists and digital humanists, the partnership has not been without friction between the professional theories and the practices of both disciplines. During a recent digitization project undertaken jointly by archivists and theater faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), different assumptions and perspectives revealed competing ideas about context and the authenticity of primary sources. This article discusses these points of contention by framing them within similar concerns expressed in the archival and humanities literature. It then examines theater literature to understand performance studies research needs and conceptualize notions of context and authenticity in theater scholarship. The article supports prior assertions that notions of context and authenticity are not absolute but are rooted in the perspectives of different disciplines. It also argues that when collaborating with other disciplines on digital projects, archivists should be considerate of their perspectives, research needs, and intended audiences to create a product that best meets user needs. This inclusive approach can foster an environment for broader archival participation in the digital humanities arena and increase the profile of the profession.

From 2012 to 2014, archivists in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at SIUC collaborated with theater professors Ronald Naversen and Darwin Reid Payne to digitize Payne's scenographic designs. Scenography is a discipline within theater that is broader than set design. It has been defined as “the manipulation and orchestration of the performance environment . . . typically through architectonic structures, light, projected images, sound, costume and performance objects or props.”4 More holistic, it is “the seamless synthesis of space, text, research, art, actors, directors and spectators that contributes to an original creation.”5 The two-dimensional renderings and three-dimensional models span Payne's nearly forty-year career as a scene designer and professor at SIUC and later Wake Forest University. In the project's initial stage, a theater doctoral candidate arranged the collection and created metadata for renderings and models that were digitized by a specialist in the university's Center for Teaching Excellence. In the second and more laborious stage, the project team hired a photography student to digitize and create metadata for the remaining objects and upload the information into CONTENTdm as the Darwin Reid Payne Theater Collection.6 The student worked under the direct supervision of the university archivist, and Naversen and Payne provided metadata not easily discerned, such as production date, venue, and the types of materials used to create the original objects.

The online collection serves the dual purposes of preserving Payne's legacy and serving as a teaching tool. It will support scenographic instruction, research, and potential future humanities initiatives. Naversen wrote that his “essential goal was to make Darwin Reid Payne's design work and aesthetic accessible/available to teachers, students, and theater aficionados,” explaining, “I have used the website to show my classes examples of his rendering technique and model making practices. When a student designer has gotten stuck on how a show could transition and move I can show some of his designs as examples of how Darwin solved the problem in his production.” The digital collection allows the researcher to study the physical items in new ways. Naversen discovered this in previous work on designer Mordecai Gorelik. “I discovered that once digitized with the designs alphabetized by show title I was able to review his design work (spanning fifty years) quickly and in the process became aware of trends in his design work and recurring motifs of industrialization and storyboarding the dramatic action. I hoped the same would be true of reviewing Darwin's digitized work. Indeed I am now aware of moments in his career where he underwent a shift in his methodology and aesthetic and can see the progression of his worth to his mature aesthetic.”7

Although all are pleased with the completed online collection, the theater professors and I held conflicting ideas regarding the collection's content and the integrity of the digitized records. The disagreements were rooted in the different perspectives of the archival and theater disciplines. My aims were to faithfully represent the analog renderings and models in digital form, preserve contextual information for both the physical collection and digital surrogates, and adhere to digitization best practices to provide users reliable and trustworthy records. The student worker scanned or photographed the items to preservation standards and created access copies, adjusting color in Photoshop to most accurately render the analog materials digitally. Indeed, the Illinois State Library best practices for digital imaging state: “Create a faithful reproduction of the original. So as not to diminish the historical, cultural accuracy and value of the material, don't attempt to correct or improve the original content.”8 Similar guidelines in government and higher education reinforce this practice.9

For their part, Naversen and Payne were more focused on how to capture the artistry of Payne's scenographic style and to convey their vision of the collection's research value and use. Rather than simply convey an accurate depiction of the physical models, Payne in particular wanted to best express how the scenery appeared on stage. Payne took the model photographs created by the student worker and, using scenographic design software, digitally enhanced the images above and beyond basic color correction. He added lighting effects, additional scenery, and repositioned actor figures to where they would stand during particular scenes. An example is shown in Figures 1 and 2. He also added to the online collection images of other renderings in the private possession of friends and colleagues, as well as digitized production photographs of an unknown provenance.10


A stage configuration created by Darwin Reid Payne for a 1987 production of The Three Penny Opera is shown in this unedited model photograph.


A stage configuration created by Darwin Reid Payne for a 1987 production of The Three Penny Opera is shown in this unedited model photograph.

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The same model photograph appears here with Payne's digital enhancements showing added scenery, lighting effects, and human figures.


The same model photograph appears here with Payne's digital enhancements showing added scenery, lighting effects, and human figures.

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The drastic alteration of the model photographs and the addition to the online collection of images not in archival custody raised concerns about the collection's integrity from an archival perspective. The digitally enhanced models are not faithful or authentic representations of the physical items in the collection and could mislead researchers into thinking that such models actually exist. The added production images and renderings disrupt the principle of provenance because, while created by Payne, they are from other sources not a part of the physical collection in archival custody. These conflicts raised several questions and fostered conversation between myself and the theater professionals about authenticity and context. What, in this case, is authentic? Is it an accurate depiction of a model as a record of Payne's design work? Or is it the digitally altered versions that better capture Payne's artistic vision? Are the images intended to represent the physical archival collection or Payne's complete vision of how the sets appeared on stage and supported the performance? And what is more useful for theater scholars and enthusiasts, the collection's presumed primary audience, the models “in the raw” or capturing Payne's style and approach to scenographic design? These questions inspired an exploration of the nature of theater and scenographic research, performance documentation, and professional values. Archivists will benefit from similar journeys by developing deeper understandings of other disciplines with which to collaborate and thus encourage the creation of digital resources that best suit researcher needs. The following paragraphs discuss this exploration.

In recent years, archivists have been increasingly observant and contemplative about how other disciplines conceptualize “archive” and “archives.” Marlene Manoff's review of this cross-disciplinary interest noted that it “is fueled by a shared preoccupation with the function and fate of the historical and scholarly record.”11 Indeed, the journal Performing Arts Resources is dedicated to showcasing library and archival performing arts collections. Entire volumes have been devoted to various aspects of theater documentation, including scenic design. These and others show pride in both preserving theatrical legacy and advancing scholarship.12

Theater professionals are also becoming more concerned with the methodology and challenges of documenting live performance, which is inherently ephemeral, which I will discuss in greater detail later. Because of the fleeting nature of theatrical performance, archives represent a sense of security, a way to preserve traces of past performance and aid academic researchers. Therefore, theater scholar Matthew Reason described archives as a manifestation of “the impulse to stop things from vanishing . . . and the feeling that one is able to access the past,” as well as “the most proper storehouse for performance afterlife.”13 Reason also noted: “The archive provides an opportunity to claim a validity beyond the anecdotal or speculative, as an aid to and justification of the researcher's own memory and interpretation. This is the attraction of the archive for the performing arts researcher: as each performance disappears the archives offers the possibility of supplementing and perhaps supplanting doubtful memory as the site of performance record.”14

And yet, despite the research and documentation challenges posed by the ephemerality of performance, an alternative perspective of archives emphasizes the performance act from the fixed record. Diana Taylor distinguished the “archive of supposedly enduring materials” and the mythical notions of unmediated archival authority, from “the so-called ephemeral repertoire of embodied practice/knowledge (i.e., spoken language, dance, sports, ritual).” Her central argument is that acts of performance ranging in genre from plays to political protests are equally valid methods of transmitting knowledge about a culture. In the example of the Yuyachkani theater group, she wrote: “There is a continuum of ways of storing and transmitting memory that spans from the archival to the embodied, or what I have been calling a repertoire of embodied thought/memory, with all sorts of mediated and mixed modes in between. The archive . . . can contain the grisly record of criminal violence—the documents, photographs, and remains that tell of disappearances. But what happens, Yuyachkani asks, when there are no photographs, no documents, when even the bones lay scattered by the wayside? The repertoire, for them, holds the tales of the survivors, their gestures, the traumatic flashbacks, repeats, and hallucinations—in short, all those acts usually thought of as ephemeral and invalid forms of knowledge and evidence.”15 The performance act, or repertoire, serves in this case as the valid record even though the performance is rooted in fluid tales, tradition, and memory.

While disciplines conceptualize applicable notions of “archives” and documentation as seen in the works of Marlene Manoff and others,16 the continued growth of digital initiatives in the archives and humanities professions has shifted the discourse to the digital environment. Here, use of the word “archives” is particularly confused “by information technologists as well as the general public to refer to things which we archivists would not call archives.”17 This may be due to the ubiquity of the term. Owens summarized several ways in which “archives” and “archive” are used in different contexts, including “Archive as in ‘Right Click > add to Archive’,” which exposes anyone with a computer to a concept of an archives, right or wrong.18 An article on the commercial and educational interests in British theater archives used the term as a verb, the act of archiving, at times seemingly synonymous with preservation, including digitization for preservation and access.19 In other words, for many, to archive is to preserve.

Archivists and librarians have voiced concern about the ways the term is used to describe “everything currently existing in digital format anywhere or . . . some small subset of such material, typically a discrete collection of related electronic documents.”20 David Berry referred to archives in the broadest digital sense as “huge quantities of articles, texts and data suddenly available at the researcher's fingertips.”21 Maggie Gale and Ann Featherstone used the all-encompassing term “Internet archives” to describe the primary source of information for young theater scholars.22 This is the result of a narrow understanding of archives as mere collections, characterized by digital humanists as the products of the act of collecting. Put another way, Kate Theimer stated that digital humanists often view an archives as “a grouping of materials that had been purposefully selected in order to be studied and made accessible.”23 The William Blake Archive and the Walt Whitman Archive are two oft-cited examples of such collections, which compile digitized primary sources from multiple institutions supplemented by secondary source essays, bibliographies, and commentaries to contextualize the collection and act as a venue for publishing scholarship.24 Carole Palmer called this method of contextualization “contextual mass,” “a principle for digital collection development” where “different types of materials and different subjects work together to support deep multifaceted inquiry in an area of research.”25 Michael Kramer even argued that secondary sources can be viewed as a type of archives, and the digital archives provides a place to bring primary and secondary archives together.26 Indeed, throughout the course of our project, Ronald Naversen often referred to Payne's digital collection, which contains digitized materials collected from other sources, as “Darwin's archive.”

The concepts of archives or collections in an electronic environment can be attributed to genres of information sets with which people are already familiar. Marlene Manoff explored the relationship between “archive” and “database” as metaphor through the lens of “archival effects” on the digital environment, defined as “the ways in which digital media bring the past into the present.”27 For many, archives and databases, especially in an electronic environment, look and function in such similar ways as to lead them to use the terms interchangeably. A database can be defined as “Any collection of information, automated or not, without regard to how it is accessed or stored,” while the many definitions of archives include, “An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting archives,” or “the building (or portion thereof) housing archival collections.”28 The definitions of both terms mention “collection” or the act of collecting and storage. Payne's online collection is accessible through the CONTENTdm collection management software, which functions much like a database of his work while being called his “archive.” Digital humanities sites like the Walt Whitman Archive and the William Blake Archive are more akin to databases in that they are collections of primary and secondary sources to which access is facilitated through search and browse methods. The fact that these and like resources often use digitized archival records or partner with archival repositories increases the temptation to call these websites “archives.” Indeed, Palmer stated that using the term has “merit” because they “tend to focus on primary sources and emphasize the importance of the physical object.”29

However, some digital humanists recognize the distinction. Joshua Sternfeld proposed “digital historical representations” as an umbrella term for digital archives, databases, websites, pedagogical tools, and mobile applications.30 Manoff noted that Ed Folsom, one of the Walt Whitman Archive founders, “claims that the use of the word ‘archive’ in the name Walt Whitman Archive is primarily metaphoric and that the Whitman archives is more accurately described as a database.”31 Fellow Whitman Archive founder Kenneth M. Price examined various terms used to describe digital humanities scholarship, including “edition,” “project,” “archives,” and “thematic research collection.” He stated, “archive is a self-designated term, one adopted by the creators of resources. In contrast, digital thematic research collection is a term used by people describing the work created.” Palmer noted that “most thematic collections are not static. Scholars add to and improve the content. . . . Moreover, individual items in a collection can also evolve because of the inherent flexibility (and vulnerability) of ‘born digital’ and transcribed documents.”32 Most important, when considering the addition of secondary sources and other tools, the goals of thematic research collections “reach beyond those of a traditional archive” and “work together to fully exploit the advantages of the digital medium.”33 Payne's digitally enhanced model photographs can be considered added and evolved content compared to the original physical models and their faithful digital representations.

Other ideas of archives in the digital environment are worth noting. Michael Moss likened the collapse of the term “archive” into “collections” as a return to the wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, where “as in the digital environment, the ‘text’ [or record] . . . can be pretty much anything.”34 In shifting from analog to digital and in a postmodern context, “the [digital] archive becomes a global contingent collection of unstable ‘texts’ with questionable ‘evidential’ value that can be deployed in competing narratives,” and consequently “‘the adequacy, propriety, truthfulness of the materials . . . that constitute an archive cannot be judged by their appearance in the archive as such.’”35 Moss added that digital authenticity depends on “metadata that is often not completed at the time of creation or becomes detached” and distinguished conclusively between “archives” and “collection” in the former's “fiduciary juridical function” through which “users can have confidence that when they consult archives they are what they purport to be.”36 These are important points for archivists defending the traditional notion of “archives” and have implications for Payne's digital collection that I will discuss later. Others such as Tanya Clement, Wendy Hagenmaier, and Levine Knies see the archives of the future in terms of “how emerging digital practices in scholarly publication and scholarly editing in libraries and archives shape notions of the changing roles of the archivist, the librarian, and the humanist in the digital age.” Through the shared heritage of said scholarly work, the “future work in the archive” consists of central and interdisciplinary institutional repositories, small and large curated data sets or scholarly editions published by libraries and archives, and circulated peer review of these products.37 This “archives of the future” appears to envision archivists taking a greater role in digital humanities websites and digital scholarly editions in contrast to a traditional definition of “archives.” Finally, archives as seen in media theory create “the need to think of museums and archives as non-places, but as addresses and hence as modes of management of protocols, software structures, and patterns of retrieval” or mathematical spaces “where retrieval . . . is not a matter of interpretative, iconological semantics but computing algorithms.”38 The nonplace archives emphasize the digital essence of thematic research collections and legitimizes these virtual spaces as unique digital places, rather than just collections of digitized archival materials.

The various uses and conceptualizations of the words “archive” and “archives” have frustrated some archivists who perceive them as “co-opted” and “stripped of definite meaning.”39 Theimer is one of the most vocal archival ambassadors engaged with digital humanists and historians, not chastising their usage of “archives,” but rather clarifying the traditional notion of “archives” as distinct from alternative usages. For her, this edification is important because archivists and humanists often work together and “may not know that they are talking past each other.”40 In the Society of American Archivists' definition of “archives,” echoed by Theimer, a significant distinction between the archival and digital humanist “archives” is that the former's collections are formed organically and adhere to the principles of provenance and original order. Heather MacNeil compared the practice of textual criticism in restoring original texts to archival arrangement and description, which works to restore original order and contextual relationships, thus securing record authenticity.41 As Louise Craven put it, “The archivist's defining role lies in the relationship to context and the creation of meaning.”42

Provenance—which maintains that records of different origins not be intermixed—and the impulse to keep intact the original order imposed on the records by the creator both work to preserve the contexts of creation, purpose, and management essential for understanding the records. This is markedly different from Palmer's “contextual mass,” often the approach in digital humanities websites,43 because materials of different provenances are not intermixed. The preservation of context is especially important in the digital environment because digitized primary sources appear removed from their parent collections, boxes, and folders, often stripped of contextual information critical to understanding a record's meaning. Some archivists and digital humanists have studied how context is preserved in digital collections. A sampling of this literature reveals strategies including links between digital collections and original finding aids, considerations for search functionality and website interface, incorporating Encoded Archival Description finding aids into digital collections, better provenance and custodial description, supplemental descriptive resources such as historic time lines, interlinking between related digital collections, and relying on the website as a contextualizing influence through thematic groupings of materials.44

Context, as articulated through provenance and original order, aids researchers in determining the authenticity and reliability of a record. It is important to distinguish that in a digital environment, authenticity and reliability often refer to maintaining the file integrity of born-digital records, the challenges and strategies of which have been discussed in preservation and technology literature.45 Cases such as Payne's digitization project are more concerned with the faithful digital representation of the physical original, which is, as noted earlier, a practice expressed in some digitization best practices. Luciana Duranti defined reliability as “the authority and trustworthiness of the records as evidence, the ability to stand for the facts they are about.” Form is also important, for “a record is regarded as reliable when its form is complete, that is, when it possesses all the elements that are required by the socio-juridical system in which the record is created for it to be able to generate consequences recognized by the system itself.”46 Authenticity is “when [the record] is the document that it claims to be . . . that the record does not result from any manipulation, substitution, or falsification occurring after the completion of its procedure of creation, and that it is therefore what it purports to be.”47 The reliable and authentic conditions of a record shape how researchers view the record as factual, genuine, trustworthy, and of use for their research. These conditions also validate a record as evidence, or “a manifestation of facts about past events.” A record as evidence is formulated by its relationship to the event that created it, “a relationship that can be associated with a record, but that is not, and cannot be, contained within a record.”48

The contextualizing roles of provenance and original order, which facilitate researcher confidence in the reliability and authenticity of records as evidence, have implications for Payne's digital collection. As previously noted, these principles were the arena in which theater professors Naversen and Payne and I disagreed about the collection content. Concerning provenance, Payne added digital images of theatrical productions and scenographic designs that were not digitized from his collection in archival custody, but instead uploaded from a CD he provided during the project. These digital photographs tended to depict designs from the later stages of his career, when he was no longer SIUC faculty. He also added digital photographs of a 2012 exhibition of his work at the SIUC University Museum, the subject being the exhibit itself and not specific designs, contrary to the scope of the project. Researchers interested in these images would be unable to request an original photograph and could not be sure of the provenance of digitized or born-digital CD images.

Yet, when considering provenance in the context of the digitization project and the needs of users of this collection, I began to understand the value of the extraprovenancial images. In a digital collection, the nature of provenance can be viewed as the origin of the digital image or the origin of what the image depicts. The provenance of the added images remains questionable as it was never clarified when Payne provided the CD. The notes field in the collection metadata identifies these images as “Digital File given from Darwin. In ‘Darwin CD Images’ folder. No physical copy.” Although this note identifies Payne as the donor, it is meant more to clarify that these images were not digitized from the collection in archival custody, unlike the majority of what users of the digital collection can search and browse. Digitized renderings that at the time remained in private hands were identified with “In the private collection of . . . ” But if we consider provenance as the origin of what is depicted, in this case Payne's designs, then clearly adding images of designs otherwise absent from the physical collection provides researchers with a more complete view of “Darwin's archive.” Those interested in Payne's work and design technique, particularly the theater students who are the primary audience of this collection, benefit from this completeness. Digital collections provide a platform to aggregate disseminative records from a creator; in a sense, the virtual or intellectual provenance noted by Emily Monks-Leeson. But she also realized that “for surrogate copies of archival material, the website, rather than the creator or the archival repository, provides the records' present context by bringing them together and making them available for a certain purpose.” In Payne's digital collection, provenancial context is maintained through a combination of Payne being the origin of the depicted scenography and the website combining the images “to a central idea or person,” a digital manifestation of respect de provenance over respect de fonds.49 The additional images might also be considered a born-digital accretion50 to Payne's initial donation, thus recontextualizing them with Payne's physical collection as the source, with the digital collection as simply the way of access.

Despite many archival and digital humanist advocates for contextualization in the digital environment, another perspective places the burden of context and meaning on the user. Craven noted that, particularly in the case of genealogists, users may be unconcerned with the archival context and provenance of digitized records. “[M]any are not fascinated by archival context at all: they are concerned only with the document itself, with the information it provides about their own family with the meaning it gives to their own lives.” It is a “shift which incorporates the context of the user,” “what he/she brought to the text,” in that by removing the record from the archival context and into a personal context, “the content has become the context.”51 Users of Payne's collection are most likely concerned with the depicted scenography—the document itself—for research, study, and personal interest.

A more challenging aspect of the digital collection was the inclusion of Payne's digitally enhanced model photographs with added scenery, lighting effects, and human figures representing the actors and actresses. From an archival perspective, these digital images were not authentic records as they had been manipulated and were not faithful digital surrogates of the original models. I was concerned about the possibility that a researcher might request to view a model and expect to see what is depicted in the digitally altered image.52 Likewise, researchers could form a false impression of what the model actually looks like if they only observed the digital surrogates. This was partially mitigated in the metadata notes field with the statement: “Digital File given from Darwin. In ‘Darwin CD Images’ folder. This is a digitally enhanced version of a model photo.” Additionally, CONTENTdm displays the images alphabetically by title so users can view altered and unaltered model photographs side-by-side. But upon exploring the nature of theater documentation, scenography and design practice, and researcher methodology, it became apparent that authenticity is a dynamic concept that depends upon the context of different users and, in this case, different professional disciplines. A record's authentic properties must be evaluated against criteria appropriate for its use and users. Regarding Payne's digitally altered images, we must ask not only if they are authentic, but authentic to what? The alterations become acceptable and understandable when we broaden our notions of authenticity to include Payne's artistic and semiotic intent and how the scenography appeared on stage, as opposed to simply comparing the physical model to the digital surrogate. A literature review of theater practice and archival authenticity supports this notion and helps us understand Payne's alterations in context.

The literature repeatedly emphasizes the challenges of documenting theater. Francesca Marini found that “the focus of the work of theatre scholars and performing arts archivists and librarians is performance.”53 Performance by its nature is ephemeral, a worrisome reality for scholars faced with “the passing of an ephemeral event and the fear that the record of that event will be mere residue, inadequate remembrance of the original live performance.”54 This vanishing quality makes performance a difficult object of study in that the essence of performance involves interaction between actor(s) and audience. How well do play scripts, production photographs, recordings, playbills, and props capture that atmosphere and audience experience? The challenges increase when we accept that each performance is different, even if it is the same production by the same cast in multiple occurrences. Paradoxically, while Gay McAuley called performance “essentially unrecordable,” Reason stated that “the ephemerality of live performances means that it must be consciously documented if it is not to disappear.”55 Theater scholars, archivists, and librarians are thus caught in the divide between the urge to document and the ephemeral reality of theater.

The multisensory aspects of theatrical performance also contribute to its documentation challenges. Technologies regularly used to document performance such as film, photography, and audio recording fail to capture the dynamics of theater. Also, these technologies themselves and the person(s) operating them impose their visual bias or artistic interpretation on subsequent researchers, leading one to say, “I do not believe there can be such a thing as neutral, objective documentation of performance.”56 As McAuley put it, “the recording medium constantly interposes its own specificity between the theatrical event and the viewer/analyst. . . . The risk here is not only that essential features of the stage reality will be lost but that in its place will be created a teleplay or a narrative film.” She therefore distinguished documentation of the mise-en-scène57 from that of performance, as it is better captured through recording technologies, and advocated for a systematic documentation of both.58

Philosopher Walter Benjamin made several observations relevant to Payne's digitally altered model images, namely that the authentic properties of original works of art fail to transfer to reproductions. It is important to note that the renderings and models are viewed as works of art beyond their practical functional purpose. Authenticity, whether in the context of a performance or in Payne's models, is embodied in the history (physical and custodial changes) and ritual function (the location of its original use value) of the work of art. Benjamin termed these unreproducible elements as the “aura” of the work. He wrote: “The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object. One might subsume the eliminated element in the term ‘aura’ and go on to say; that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.”59

Understanding these challenges lends support for Payne's digital alterations. The models themselves record the scenographic design process but are limited in their ability to manifest the lighting and backdrops of the stage. Against the ephemeral and detrital reality of performance, Payne attempted to present a more accurate and authentic depiction of his scenography as it would have appeared on stage. This echoes the appeal of the archives for theatrical scholars, facilitating research with documentation that provides a better window into the original event, and halting the disappearance of performance. Reason stated, “There is similarly evidence of a burning passion to return to the origins in documentation that is continually fighting slippage into disappearance.” This is “a process that shifts between concepts of archives, archaeology and live memory—shifting from original document to the site of excavation, to the site of experience—with each offering greater primacy in the attempt to return to the ‘live origin.’”60 This echoes performance studies, where authenticity hinges upon the degree to which the performance is true to the original work. David Davies wrote, “A performance is true to a work just in case it meets the requirements for being a correct rendering of that work . . . if a performance is to be true to a work, should we not require that it conforms to the artist's conception . . . of what truth to a work involves, that is, of what a work prescribes for its correct performance?”61 Although Davies here addressed historical context and playwright intention, the concepts apply to Payne's altered images. If the work is Payne's scenographic design, his added atmospheric effects to the model photographs showcase his artistic intent and recapture authentic stage appearance. Payne's involvement in the digitization project must be emphasized, because, in most cases, creators do not participate in archival projects. The fact that the enhancements are the work of the original creator lends legitimacy to the altered model photographs. His actions reflect the significance of the artist's intention for historical and curatorial interpretation, and the desire of theater practitioners to preserve their work using contemporary technology.62

Payne's approach also embodies Benjamin's concepts of aura and authenticity. If the unedited digital photographs are reproductions of the models, the digitally enhanced images supplement the record by depicting Payne's authentic scenographic vision, thus preserving the aura of what appeared on stage. The altered images better represent the stage in the context of its original ritual function, the theatrical performance.

Payne's advocacy for the digitally altered images and perception of their usefulness to researchers is undoubtedly rooted in past predigital scenographic practice. The scenic model, he wrote, is one of the most useful tools for proposing stage designs to a director. By at least the 1970s, models supplanted two-dimensional sketches as the most effective method of conveying the three-dimensional characteristics of a designer's stage concept. Just as the models were photographed for the digital collection, models in general were often photographed to offer a supplemental and more portable record for directors. Even then, Payne was concerned with photography's ability to depict the model. He wrote, “The main problem in photographing model sets is creating the illusion of depth while maintaining a strong feeling for the dramatic impact desired by the scenic designer. . . . Most designers will indicate a desire to re-create the impression one gets from seeing the actual set being used on a stage during a performance.”63 He promoted photographing models using miniature lighting structures to highlight effects and more accurately show the director how the design will appear on stage.64 Now, the digitization project allowed Payne to use digital technology to create the added effects and again dictate how viewers will perceive his designs. The digital collection furthers Payne's authentic vision of the stage.

Thus far, the discussion has centered on aspects of theatrical performance, which raises the question of whether or not the models and corresponding lifeless stage manifestations can qualify as performance. If performance is at the center of theater scholarship, how well do the documentary traces convey a sense of the performance? The literature concerning scenographic practice and performance analysis confirms that the set designs not only furnish atmosphere for the actor(s) but function in a performing role as well. Joslin McKinney and Helen Iball noted that, in the twentieth century, scenography “gradually gained currency by drawing attention to the way stage space can be used as a dynamic and ‘kinaesthetic contribution’ to the experience of performance. Emphasising the spatial and sensory aspects, contemporary use of the term moves away from thinking of design as decoration of the stage and locates scenography as an integral component of performance or as a mode of performance itself.”65 Pamela Howard cited space as “the first and most important challenge for a scenographer,” a “living personality” or a “potent visual image that supplements the world of the play that the director creates with the actors in the space.”66 Payne understood the transformation of the designer's task and scenography's performance role. The designer “has become less and less a creator of scenic effects and more an artist who is deeply involved with the problems of the performers,” one “whose product depends largely on how successfully he is in digging out meanings and information the playwright has hidden,” influencing “both the actor and director, and ultimately . . . the way the play itself is perceived.”67 A scenographer's artistic self-expression can be forceful and meaningful as long as it does not distract from the larger performance.68 Scenography, therefore, is as much about bringing the world onstage to life as is the movement and dialogue of the actor(s).

The performance aspects of scenography help us further understand Payne's reasoning for altering the model photographs. The literature frames performance analysis within the competing philosophies of semiotics and what Patrice Pavis termed “dissemiotics.” Semiotic analysis examines how the design creates meaning using signs and symbols through the interaction between the signifier, an object, and the signified, the meaning for which it stands. Dissemiotics criticizes the segmenting tendency of semiotics and appreciates the wholeness and energy of performance to shape the scene. Signs are grouped into networks called vectors where each sign “only has meaning through the dynamic that relates it to other signs.”69 Joslin McKinney and Philip Butterworth credited semiotics for the acceptance of scenographic performance. “[T]he notion of a theatre production as a signifying entity allowed scenography, a part of that entity, to create meaning separately from the text.”70 Many have detailed the ways in which scenography creates symbolism and meaning through lighting, colors, textures, architecture, and spatial configuration.71 Pavis's questionnaire, a tool for performance analysis, lists scenographic considerations, including spatial forms; the relationship between audience and acting space; aspects of spatial structure and organization; and systems of colors, forms, and materials, and their connotations.72 Payne's digital lighting, stage property, and color enhancements are necessary to preserve his scenographic contribution to the performance. The altered model photographs bring the designs, and thus the stage, more to life than do the comparatively flat raw images. And, although a model photograph is a mere snapshot of a scene, researchers will find the enhanced images more useful in understanding Payne's scenographic style, its functionality, and its semiotic characteristics.

Last, understanding the digital collection's educational value and the research needs of theater scholars is important for accepting the digitally altered photographs as authentically superior records of Payne's scenography. Patrick M. Finelli's case study offers a precedent for using digital surrogates of scenographic records for teaching and research. He stated three reasons for using design records for these purposes: to research an individual designer's style and achievements, to present examples of particular genres or styles, and to review solutions to production challenges. He mentioned that the rendering surrogates required color correction to accurately depict the original.73 Although Payne took color correction further, the resulting images more likely satisfy Finelli's reasons for using scenographic records for education and research. Christie Carson wrote that her two educational aids, the King Lear CD and Designing Shakespeare, were designed to support the study of the production of Shakespearean plays over time.74 Payne's digital collection reflects this on a smaller scale; for example, researchers can see differences between his 1967 and 1987 designs for A Streetcar Named Desire. If Payne's designs were included in a future compilation of a specific performance, the enhanced images offer a more complete and authentic depiction of the stage configuration, again elevating their usefulness.

Context is as important for theater researchers as for any scholarly discipline and allows thespians and archivists to find common understanding of the nature of theater research and the theatrical record. In theater, context can refer to the social, political, economic, and artistic undercurrents of the time a play was written and designed. Context could also refer to the details of a specific performance and include the role of the audience and its interaction with performance. Marini reiterated that understanding the context of the creation of records is critical for archival intellectual control and researcher use. “[I]t is essential to know when, why, and by whom the sources were created. This information is particularly relevant to scholarly users and the practitioners whose work relies heavily on research such as costume and set designers.”75 Context of creation, if in Payne's case expanded from the design drafting process to include the performance itself, allows Payne to depict digitally a closer rendering of the final stage manifestation of his design as seen in the creating act of performance. Payne's enhanced images provide a better understanding of the “by whom” aspect of scenographic research, as users receive a clearer impression of his uniqueness and style. How well does a model alone satisfy his vision, especially considering that lighting effects were routinely added during photography to pitch the idea to the director? In the same paragraph, Marini advocated that archivists and librarians managing theater collections should possess knowledge of the arts and technical knowledge concerning lighting and stage plans. It is unlikely that most archivists have this knowledge. Yet the edited images in their completeness convey lighting and configuration intention that can aid researchers in ways archivists lacking expertise cannot.

As noted, scholars have become increasingly interested in theatrical archives for researching scenographic concepts, methodology, individual designers, and the history of the practice. The records, however, provide only a partial understanding of scenography. McKinney and Iball stated: “Design sketches are expressive but often show scenographic intentions for a production rather than what actually happened. Models and technical drawings ought to provide an accurate record of what appears on stage, but they do not always survive the production process. . . . In scenographic historiography, design artefacts have been explored with a caution to remember the distinction they represent between intention and production.”76 Payne's digital collection mitigates some of these concerns. The unaltered model images and sketches, displayed alongside the altered images, show his intentions, while the altered images more accurately reflect how the design looked on stage. And an accurate stage depiction is a more reliable record because, as Duranti noted, its form is complete and meets the expectations of the sociojuridical system in which it was created, in this case, the theater profession. Thus, the altered images work to facilitate scenographic research.

This article explored the differing notions of archives, context, and authenticity from the perspectives of archivists and theater professionals. The discussion was framed within the larger arena of digital humanities, a multidisciplinary field in which archivists are increasingly attentive to the scholarly resources created by humanities scholars, specifically their concepts of “archives” and the ways in which primary sources are represented digitally. But as I learned in the course of the Darwin Reid Payne digitization project, being mindful of broader perspectives of context and authenticity held by other disciplines is beneficial for archivists. Archivists have recognized the subjective nature of authenticity in the postmodern world. “[W]e should acknowledge that the methods for assessing reliability and authenticity, and the generalizations on which they are built, are not essential or transcendent verities but human constructs that have been shaped within a particular historical and cultural context; and that the meaning and value of records extend far beyond their status as reliable and authentic evidence of action as we currently define those terms. The narrative archivists have constructed around the concepts of reliability and authenticity is only one among many narratives.”77

The decision to include in the digital collection both Payne's design sketches held outside of archival custody and the digitally altered model photographs challenges the archival principles of provenance and authenticity in the sense of unaltered records or faithful digital surrogates. But Payne's contributions reveal his goals of showing not only the raw materials of the design process, but a complete body of his work and a truer, more authentic depiction of the final stage manifestation of his designs. The digital collection's inclusive approach embraces both the digital surrogates faithful to the original and the altered model images faithful to Payne's scenographic style and the true form of the production, thus accommodating archival and theatrical perspectives on context and authenticity. The digital collection satisfies the allure of the archives for theater professionals articulated by Reason, to document performance in the face of ephemerality by preserving authoritative performance records that are more reliable than doubtful memory. Researchers are not left speculating about Payne's design techniques and scenographic intentions. Whether called a collection, a database, or “Darwin's archive,” the collection offers another way of viewing “contextual mass,” whereby contextual understanding is broadened through the creator's digital additions rather than through secondary sources.

The culture of the theater profession, specifically the nature of scenographic theory and practice, performance analysis, and theater research, shaped Payne's vision of the digital collection. He was also concerned about preserving and conveying his legacy. This exemplifies Terry Cook's postmodern assertion that “documents are shaped to reinforce narrative consistency and conceptual harmony for the author, thereby enhancing position, ego, and power.”78 Put another way, it advocates authenticity as “a social construct that has been employed by a number of disciplines to help structure their particular environment.”79

The altered images also exhibit postmodern notions of a record's truthfulness. Chris Duncan stated, “As truth is relative it is more feasible to suggest records should seek to be realistically true to themselves in order to become true to their own originality. By articulating such truth the record may start to define its own existence and ultimately find its own ‘authenticity,’ regardless of whether the information it contains is reliable.”80 Additionally, a record's relationship to the event that created it affects its believability as evidence.81 Payne's altered images, true to his style and vision, are justified when considering that theatrical performance is the medium that inspired his design.

The most beneficial aspect of affirming and incorporating alternative perspectives of archival principles into a collaborative project is that it results in a better resource. The digital collection addresses archival concerns of context and authenticity through metadata and side-by-side display of the unaltered and altered images. The additional renderings and altered model photographs put the user first, satisfying the collection's target audience of students and scholars studying scenography and the work of Darwin Reid Payne. As Professor Ron Naversen put it, “Someone who wants to learn model making techniques would like a simple unaltered photograph of the model. Another researcher wanting to know how Darwin saw the show in his mind would prefer the altered Photoshop model. So the choice of which to use should probably be based upon who will use the collection most.”82

Matt Gorzalski is the university archivist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He received his master's in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Leader Award from the Society of American Archivists.

Matt Gorzalski is the university archivist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He received his master's in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Leader Award from the Society of American Archivists.

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Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “The Humanities, Done Digitally,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 12. Additional commentary on the nature of and defining digital humanities can be found in Matthew Kirschenbaum, “What Is Digital Humanities and What's It Doing in English Departments?,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, 3–11.


Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, “The Digital Humanities and Humanities Computing: An Introduction,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004), xxiii, xxiv.


Fitzpatrick, “The Humanities, Done Digitally,” 13.


Joslin McKinney and Philip Butterworth, The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 4.


Pamela Howard, What Is Scenography? (London: Routledge, 2002), 130.


Carli Digital Collections, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, “Darwin Reid Payne Theater Collection,” http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_sic_payne.php?CISOROOT=/sic_payne.


The quotes in this paragraph come from Ronald Naversen, email message to the author, August 22, 2014.


Illinois State Library, “Illinois State Library Digital Imaging Program-Best Practices,” rev. 2014, http://www.finditillinois.org/ida/digital-imaging/IDA_Best_Practices.pdf.


Indiana State Library, “Proposed Digital Imaging Standards and Best Practices: Indiana Memory and LSTA Digitization Projects,” February 8, 2007, http://www.in.gov/library/files/dig_imgst.pdf; University of Massachusetts Amherst, “Guidelines for Digitization,” https://www.library.umass.edu/assets/Digital-Strategies-Group/Guidelines-Policies/UMass-Amherst-Libraries-Best-Practice-Guidelines-for-Digitization-20110523-templated.pdf. Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, “Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials: Creation of Raster Image Master Files,” 2015, http://www.digitizationguidelines.gov/guidelines/digitize-technical.html; Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, “Digitization Activities: Project Planning and Management Outline,” November 2009, http://www.digitizationguidelines.gov/guidelines/DigActivities-FADGI-v1-20091104.pdf.


The renderings in a private collection were later donated to the University Archives after the project was completed, but nevertheless were not a part of the collection in archival custody during the project's undertaking.


Marlene Manoff, “Theories of the Archive from across the Disciplines,” Portal: Libraries and the Academy 4, no. 1 (2004): 9–25.


Articles appearing in Performing Arts Resources 29 (2012) focused on specific collections, including Linda Harris Mehr, “Architecture of Dreams: Production Design Materials at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library,” 55–66; Jennifer B. Lee, “The Joseph Urban Archive, RBML, Columbia,” 67–77; Annette Fern, “Scenic Design in the Harvard Theatre Collection,” 78–87; Jody Blake, “The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts,” 88–92; Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, “Scenic Design at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts,” 93–97; Alexander F. Adducci, “The Lyric Opera of Chicago Historical Scenic Collection at Northern Illinois University,” 98–105; Beth Kattelman, “Scenic Design Resources at the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute,” 106–12; Francesca Marini, “Scenic Design and Archiving at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival,” 113–20; Julie Graham, “Setting the Stage with Scenic Design Collections at the UCLA Library,” 121–30; Helen Baer, “Scenic Design Collections at the Harry Ransom Center,” 131–36; and Susan Brady, “Scenic Design Documentation at Yale University,” 137–40. See also Ronald N. Bukoff and Angela Weaver, “The Hurley Music Library at Centenary College of Louisiana: Two Musical Theatre Collections,” Theatre Survey 43, no. 1 (2002): 80–84; Roberta Barker, Creighton Barrett, and Doyle Lahey, “Archival Collaborations: Using Theatre Archives to Teach Canadian Theatre History and Archival Literacy,” Canadian Theatre Review 156 (2013): 46–51; Patrick M. Finelli, “Teaching with Archives: Searching for Oliver Smith's Designs,” Performing Arts Resources 29 (2012): 29–44.


Matthew Reason, Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance (Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 31.


Matthew Reason, “Archive or Memory? The Detritus of Live Performance,” New Theatre Quarterly 19, no. 1 (2003): 85.


Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham, N.C., and London: Duke University Press, 2003), 19, 192.


Manoff, “Theories of the Archive”; Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, trans. Eric Prenowitz (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1995); Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972).


Kate Theimer, “Archives in Context and as Context,” Journal of Digital Humanities 1, no. 2 (2012), http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-2/archives-in-context-and-as-context-by-kate-theimer/.


Trevor Owens, “What Do You Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers,” Library of Congress, The Signal: Digital Preservation (blog), February 27, 2014, http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2014/02/what-do-you-mean-by-archive-genres-of-usage-for-digital-preservers/.


Christie Carson, “Digitizing Performance History: Where Do We Go from Here?,” Performance Research 10, no. 3 (2005): 4–17.


Manoff, “Theories of the Archive,” 10.


David M. Berry, “Introduction: Understanding the Digital Humanities,” in Understanding Digital Humanities, ed. David M. Berry (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 2.


Maggie B. Gale and Ann Featherstone, “The Imperative of the Archive: Creative Archive Research,” in Research Methods in Theatre and Performance, ed. Baz Kershaw and Helen Nicholson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 18.


Theimer, “Archives in Context and as Context.” Manoff also expressed the idea of archive as collection in “Theory of the Archive,” 10.


The Walt Whitman Archive, http://www.whitmanarchive.org/; the William Blake Archive, http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/.


Carole L. Palmer, “Thematic Research Collections,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, 352–53.


Michael J. Kramer, “Going Meta on Metadata,” Journal of Digital Humanities 3, no. 2 (2014), http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-2/going-meta-on-metadata/. Kramer seems to be saying that in the field of historiography, or the “history of history itself,” secondary sources are used in ways similar to primary sources when answering questions such as “How did [historians] temporalize [primary sources], contextualize them, conjoin them, or distort them?” among others.


Marlene Manoff, “Archive and Database as Metaphor: Theorizing the Historical Record,” Portal: Libraries and the Academy 10, no. 4 (2010): 386.


Richard Pearce-Moses, Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, s.v. “database,” Society of American Archivists, http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/d/database; Pearce-Moses, Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, s.v. “archives,” Society of American Archivists, http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/a/archives.


Palmer, “Thematic Research Collections,” 359.


Joshua Sternfeld, “Archival Theory and Digital Historiography: Selection, Search, and Metadata as Archival Processes for Assessing Historical Contextualization,” The American Archivist 74 (Fall/Winter 2011): 547.


Manoff, “Archive and Database as Metaphor,” 392.


Kenneth M. Price, “Edition, Project, Database, Archive, Thematic Research Collection: What's in a Name?,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3, no. 3 (2009), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000053/000053.html. See also Palmer, “Thematic Research Collections,” 348–65.


Palmer, “Thematic Research Collections,” 360.


Michael Moss, “Opening Pandora's Box: What Is an Archive in the Digital Environment?,” in What Are Archives? Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives: A Reader, ed. Louise Craven (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008), 73–74, 79.


Irving Velody, “The Archive and the Human Sciences: Towards a Theory of the Archive,” History of Human Sciences 11, no. 4 (1998): 12, as cited in Moss, “Opening Pandora's Box,” 73.


Moss, “Opening Pandora's Box,” 76, 80. Moss's concept of “fiduciary juridical function” seems to best apply to public or government archives and emphasizes the legal value of archives.


Tanya Clement, Wendy Hagenmaier, and Jennie Levine Knies, “Toward a Notion of the Archive of the Future: Impressions of Practice by Librarians, Archivists, and Digital Humanities Scholars,” The Library Quarterly 83, no. 2 (2013): 112–30. The quote appears on page 117.


Jussi Parikka, “Archives in Media Theory: Material Media Archaeology and Digital Humanities,” in Understanding Digital Humanities, 91.


Joshua Ranger, “Why I Won't Be Using the Word Archive Anymore,” AVPreserve (blog), November 10, 2011, http://www.avpreserve.com/blog/why-i-wont-be-using-the-word-archive-anymore/.


Kate Theimer, “My Talk from #AHA14: A Distinction Worth Exploring: ‘Archives’ and ‘Digital Historical Representations,’” ArchivesNext (blog), January 15, 2014, http://www.archivesnext.com/?p=3645. See also Theimer, “The Role of ‘the Professional Discipline’ in Archives and Digital Archives,” ArchivesNext (blog), February 17, 2014, http://www.archivesnext.com/?p=3683; Theimer, “Some Observations on the ‘Archival Divide,’ or What I Said at AHA about Historians and Archivists,” ArchivesNext (blog), January 7, 2012, http://www.archivesnext.com/?p=2448.


Heather MacNeil, “Picking Our Text: Archival Description, Authenticity, and the Archivist as Editor,” The American Archivist 68 (Fall/Winter 2005): 264–78; Theimer, “Archives in Context and as Context”; Pearce-Moses, Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, s.v. “archives,” Society of American Archivists, http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/a/archives.


Louise Craven, “From the Archivist's Cardigan to the Very Dead Sheep: What Are Archives? What Are Archivists? What Do They Do?,” in What Are Archives?, 14.


In addition to the Whitman and Blake archives, a good example of a collection representing “contextual mass” is described in Drew VandeCreek, “‘Webs of Significance’: The Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project, New Technology, and the Democratization of History,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 1, no. 1 (2007), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/1/1/000003/000003.html#p4.


Brett Barney et al., “Ordering Chaos: An Integrated Guide and Online Archive of Walt Whitman's Poetry Manuscripts,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 20, no. 2 (2005): 205–17; Abigail R. Griner, “Where's the Context? Enhancing Access to Digital Archives,” Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists 26, no. 1 (2008): 59–69; Emily Monks-Leeson, “Archives on the Internet: Representing Contexts and Provenance from Repository to Website,” The American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011): 38–57; Sternfeld, “Archival Theory and Digital Historiography,” 544–75; Andrea Johnson, “Users, Use and Context: Supporting Interaction between Users and Digital Archives,” in What Are Archives?, 145–66; Sarah Buchanan, “Accessioning the Digital Humanities: Report from the 1st Archival Education and Research Institute,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 4, no. 1 (2010), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/4/1/000084/000084.html; Katharina Hering, “Provenance Meets Source Criticism,” Journal of Digital Humanities 3, no. 2 (2014), http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-2/provenance-meets-source-criticism/.


J. E. P. Curral, M. S. Moss, and S. A. J. Stuart, “Authenticity: A Red Herring?,” Journal of Applied Logic 6 (2008): 534–44; Sharon Adam, “Preserving Authenticity in the Digital Age,” Library Hi Tech 28, no. 4 (2010): 595–604; Ronald Jantz, “An Institutional Framework for Creating Authentic Digital Objects,” The International Journal of Digital Curation 9, no. 1 (2009): 72–83; Ross Harvey, Preserving Digital Materials (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter Saur, 2011); H. M. Gladney and J. L. Bennett, “What Do We Mean by Authentic? What's the Real McCoy?,” D-Lib Magazine 9, nos. 7–8 (2003), http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july03/gladney/07gladney.html.


Luciana Duranti, “Reliability and Authenticity: The Concepts and Their Implications,” Archivaria 39 (Spring 1995): 6.


Duranti, “Reliability and Authenticity,” 7–8.


Jennifer Meehan, “Towards an Archival Concept of Evidence,” Archivaria 61 (Spring 2006): 129, 139.


Monks-Leeson, “Archives on the Internet,” 44, 54; Laura Millar, “The Death of the Fonds and the Resurrection of Provenance: Archival Context in Space and Time,” Archivaria 53 (Spring 2002): 1–15. Laura Millar used the example of the Hudson Bay Company's records scattered across institutions to challenge the integrity of the principle of respect de fonds. She therefore promoted respect de provenance, which involves greater distinction between creator history, records history, and custodial history to broaden contextualization and emphasize provenance over fonds, a false sense of the whole of the record.


We did not accession the scans of set designs and production photographs of unknown provenance, or the altered model photographs as an accretion to the collection for a few reasons. First, some of the original design sketches that were in private hands at the time of the project came into archival custody, and these were treated as a part of the original accession and assigned that number. The images of unknown provenance and altered model images were not accessioned because throughout the project, the digital collection in CONTENTdm was thought of as a product with a life of its own, much like a digital humanities resource such as the Walt Whitman Archive.


Craven, “From the Archivist's Cardigan to the Very Dead Sheep,” 19–20.


It is important to note that the scenographic models are in the custody of the University Museum, but arrangements can be made if a researcher wishes to view a model.


Francesca Marini, “Archivists, Librarians, and Theatre Research,” Archivaria 63 (Spring 2007): 17.


Reason, “Archive or Memory?,” 82. For related discussion on the ephemerality of theater, see Gay McAuley, “Preserving the Traces: The Impossible Task of Recording and Documenting Theatrical Performance,” in The Documentation and Notation of Theatrical Performance, ed. Gay McAuley (Sydney: Sydney Association for Studies in Society and Culture, 1986), 5; Manini, “Archivists, Librarians, and Theatre Research,” 17–19; Karen W. Brazell, “GloPAC: Creating Digital Resources for a Global Audience,” Performing Arts Resources 24 (2004): 23; Reason, Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance, 1–31.


McAuley, “Preserving the Traces,” 3; Reason, Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance, 35.


Tim Fitzpatrick, “The Interpretation and Documentation of Performance: The Case of Comedy,” in The Documentation and Notation of Theatrical Performance, 64. For a historic analysis of photography and photographic notions of truth, see Joan M. Schwartz, “‘Records of Simple Truth and Precision’: Photography, Archives, and the Illusion of Control,” Archivaria 50 (Fall 2000): 1–40.


Mise-en-scène, as defined by McKinney and Butterworth, is the process of realising a theatrical text on stage and the particular aesthetic and conceptual frames that have been adopted as part of that process. See McKinney and Butterworth, The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, 4.


McAuley, “Preserving the Traces,” 3, 21. See also Rodrigue Villeneuve, “Photography of Theatre: Images Always Fail,” Canadian Theatre Review 64 (Fall 1990): 32–37; Reason, Documentation, Disappearance and Representation of Live Performance, 73–91, 113–45.


Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968), 222–26.


Reason, Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance, 39. See also pages 49–56 for additional discussion on the necessity of documentation for more accurate recollection of performance.


David Davies, Philosophy of the Performing Arts (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 73, 112.


Howard Besser, “Longevity of Electronic Art,” Performing Arts Resources 24 (2005): 112–13; McAuley, “Preserving the Traces,” 5–6. For additional discussion on preserving artist intent, see John Ippolito, “Accommodating the Unpredictable: The Variable Media Questionnaire,” Performing Arts Resources 24 (2005): 94–101.


Darwin Reid Payne, Materials and Craft of the Scenic Model (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1976), 95.


Ronald Naversen, email message to the author, February 2, 2014; Ronald Naversen, email message to the author, August 22, 2014. For additional commentary on scenographic model photography and the importance of lighting, see Keith Orton, Model Making for the Stage (Ramsbury, England: Crowood Press, 2004), 131–37.


Joslin McKinney and Helen Iball, “Researching Scenography,” in Research Methods in Theatre and Performance, ed. Baz Kershaw and Helen Nicholson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 111.


Howard, What Is Scenography?, 1–2, 15.


Darwin Reid Payne, Design for the Stage: First Steps (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1974), xvi, 5, 25.


Darwin Reid Payne, The Scenographic Imagination (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1981), 25.


Patrice Pavis, Analyzing Performance: Theatre, Dance, and Film, trans. David Williams (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003), 17. See also pages 7–18. See also McKinney and Butterworth, The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 151–70; Lois Tyson, “Semiotics,” in Theatre and Performance Design: A Reader in Scenography, ed. Jane Collins and Andrew Nisbet (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 326–29.


McKinney and Butterworth, The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, 152. McKinney and Butterworth also noted on page 153 that the stage design can convey action even without the presence of performers.


Michael Holt, Stage Design and Properties (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1993), 7–8; Erika Fischer-Lichte, “Performance Analysis,” in The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies, ed. Ramona Thomasius and Minou Arjomand, trans. Minou Arjomand (London and New York: Routledge, 2014), 49–70; Howard, What Is Scenography?, 1–16, 51–66, 105–21; Alison Oddey and Christine A. White, eds., The Potentials of Spaces: Theory and Practice of Scenography and Performance (Bristol, U.K.: Intellect Books, 2006); McKinney and Butterworth, The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, 151–70, 171–88; W. Oren Parker and Harvey K. Smith, Scene Design and Stage Lighting (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979); Adolphe Appia, “For a Hierarchy of Means of Expression on Stage,” in Theatre and Performance Design, 85–88; Gay McAuley, “A Taxonomy of Spatial Function,” in Theatre and Performance Design, 93–94; Richard Foreman, “Visual Composition, Mostly,” in Theatre and Performance Design, 215–18; Pavis, Analyzing Performance, 148–70, 171–97; Arnold Aronson, Looking into the Abyss: Essays on Scenography (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2005), 29–37, 52–66, 97–116; Gay McAuley, Space in Performance: Making Meaning in Theatre (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999); Samuel Selden and Tom Rezzuto, Essentials of Stage Scenery (New York: Meredith Corporation, 1972).


Patrice Pavis, “Limits of Analysis, Limits of Theory, and Pavis's Questionnaire,” in Theatre and Performance Design, 337. See also Pavis, Analyzing Performance, 31–54.


Finelli, “Teaching with Archives: Searching for Oliver Smith's Designs,” 29–44.


Carson, Digitizing Performance History, 4–17.


Marini, “Archivists, Librarians, and Theatre Research,” 20, 26.


McKinney and Iball, “Researching Scenography,” 117, 132.


Heather MacNeil, “Trusting Records in a Postmodern World,” Archivaria 51 (Spring 2001): 46.


Terry Cook, “Fashionable Nonsense or Professional Rebirth: Postmodernism and the Practice of Archives,” Archivaria 51 (Spring 2001): 26.


Heather MacNeil and Bonnie Mak, “Constructions of Authenticity,” Library Trends 56, no. 1 (2007): 44.


Chris Duncan, “Counterpoint: Authenticity or Bust,” Archivaria 68 (Fall 2009): 115.


Meehan, “Towards an Archival Concept of Evidence,” 129, 139–41.


Ronald Naversen, email message to the author, August 22, 2014.