In their mission to document everyday life, tradition archives document crises and uncertainty as well as continuity and stability. Many archives have initiated collection regarding current concerns and unpredictable events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Other issues with global and local implications, such as the climate crisis and war, as in Ukraine and elsewhere, present pressing questions of how to meet immediate threats to cultural heritage in situations of disaster and hostility.
At the same time, tradition archives are dealing with their own uncertainties on many levels. While digitisation has brought an array of challenges to overcome and opportunities to grasp, one might ask what will happen with “traditional” tradition archives in this new landscape.
Uncertainty means different things for different archives. Precarity is a core feature of everyday life for many smaller tradition archives, struggling with lack of resources and minimal staff. The question of what to prioritise leads to difficult or impossible choices between different potential – or essential – roles.
We invite contributions that discuss and address how uncertainty manifests on different levels in the context of tradition archives. What forms of uncertainty are there? Archivists working for archives, big and small, have faced various levels of precarity, while also having ‘lessons learned’ that could inform colleagues in similar situations. We hope to provide a context for discussion of the uncertainty that lies before us (e.g. post-digitisation), and of uncertainties that we have overcome, interacted creatively with, or learned to live with.