New Book Invites Archivists to Embrace the Concept of Virtue in Their Work

Archival Virtue: Relationship, Obligation, and the Just Archives, a new book by Scott Cline published by the Society of American Archivists, explores ideas of moral commitment, truth, difference, and just behavior in the pursuit of archival ideals. Drawing from the writings of philosophers, religious scholars, progressive activists, historians, poets, and archivists, Cline makes a compelling argument for incorporating the multilayered idea of virtue in archivists’ everyday work.

Cline proposes that if virtues are sources of power that inspire us to act justly on behalf of a better world, then archival virtue is a form of radical empowerment, one that obligates us to cherish and sustain human dignity, which is the essence of archival justice. With this in mind, Cline invites readers to purposefully examine fundamental questions around archival work:

  • What meaning do we, as humane beings, bring to the archives?
  • How does that affect and define archivists’ place in the world?
  • How do personal values influence our understanding of obligation and care in the archives?
  • How do they guide our relational encounters?

Archival Virtue is a unique contribution to the literature that will shape the way archivists, information professionals, and students engage with archives. “Scott challenges archivists to use whatever area of archival administration in which they work to continually and conscientiously embrace a framework of faith, integrity, truth, duty, wisdom, trust, and justice—all for the common good,” said Louis Jones, field archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

Buy your copy of Archival Virtue in the SAA Bookstore or via Amazon Kindle.

About the author: Scott Cline, a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, is a two-time winner of the SAA Fellows’ Ernst Posner Award for an outstanding essay in American Archivist and a recipient of SAA’s C. F. W. Coker Award for innovative finding aids. He was the founding archivist and director of the Seattle Municipal Archives from 1985 to 2016, and has previously served as president of the Academy of Certified Archivists, Northwest Archivists, and the SAA Foundation Board.