From Polders to Postmodernism: A Concise History of Archival TheoryFrom Polders to Postmodernism: A Concise History of Archival Theory by John Ridener
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a nice little find for my continuing self-education in archives. As its title suggests, it’s a short survey (less than 200 pages), that traces a series of paradigm shifts in archival theory starting in the 19th century Netherlands leading up to the present. Ridener focuses on the approaches to subjectivity and objectivity in archival theory in order to show how the theories have changed and built on each other over the last 200 years. He does a nice job of sketching the context for the theories, the changes in society and technology that drove them, as well as some interesting biographical material about individuals such as Jenkins and Schellenberg. After having just read Controlling the Past I felt like I had some exposure to contemporary thinking about archives, but was lacking some of the historical background, so this book was very helpful. I think I might have to read Schellenberg’s Modern Archives now, especially because of the NARA connection. But that might get sidelined to read more of Terry Cook’s work on macro-appraisal. My only small complaint is that I noticed quite a few typos in the first half of the book, which got a little distracting at times.