Seeking an Identity: The Portrayal of Archivists in Film

The image of archivists in media can sometimes seem nebulous. From descriptions of dusty, disorganized vaults and cardigan-clad gatekeepers, many stereotypes have been perpetuated in media. Building upon previous research, this study aims to investigate how archivists are portrayed in film.

Reel of FilmFilms involving archives and archivists were selected and a content analysis of these films was conducted to address the following questions:

Is there an archivist in the film and how is the character portrayed?

Can specific stereotypes be identified?

If the archivist is not present in the archives, what does this signify?

Do archivists have their own distinct identities in films or is the archivist a nondescript character without a name?

For more information see the presentation at the Archives Society of Alberta Conference (May 2014).

Anne Daniel is the Associate Archivist, Western University Archives. She can be reached at Anne.Daniel [at] uwo.ca. Amanda Oliver is Lead Archivist, Archives Society of Alberta. She can be reached at amandao [at] archivesalberta.org.