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Collecting and Memory

A Study of Travel Archives

Lee Arnold and Thomas van der Walt

Keywords: Archives; collecting; memory; souvenirs; travel; travelers

People’s travel collections serve as a memory aid to help them write travelogues, novels, or scientific reports when they return home. They may also have merely been a way to document a voyage or journey for future generations. Under the surface of any of these end uses is simply the need to collect, the need to hold on to memory—in the form of material culture, ephemera, photographic documentation or assiduous note taking. Travel archives are the materials (either in manuscript form or printed ephemera) that document the purposeful travel of an individual or group. Like family papers, they may be perceived as having limited value beyond their fellow travelers or family members. Irrespective of the motivation of the traveler, these collections often end up in repositories. How an archivist deals with this material is crucial to its future use.

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