Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



ADE Newsletter: News of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 1, Numbers 1, March 1979


© 1979 The Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


As the number of projects increased, more editors were needed; and young historians were gradually attracted toward editing, to some degree impelled by the crisis in the educational marketplace. Editors of the 1950s and '60s had "learned to do by doing," applying their knowledge of historical methods to the task. By and large, they were seasoned historians who responded to the challenge of comprehensive editing and its potential contribution to scholarship. By the 1970s the multiplication of projects raised serious questions about the supply of editors and the training of neophytes. An interesting correlation during the quarter-century 1950-1975 can be traced between the archivist, untrained except by experience, and the historical editor, in the lack of professional recognition of both by their fellow historians who, ironically enough, are dependent upon the archivist's and the editor's processing and elucidation of the documents. Early attempts at formal training of archivists were sporadic, arising from local initiative rather than from concerted action. The best established course on archival administration became that given at American University in conjunction with the National Archives. But archivists, having formed a separate profession, have sought (as yet in vain) to achieve an effective certification program (through the Society of American Archivists) that would be comparable to a degree in library science and which would assure professional status and confirm standards of achievement.