It recommended a single central repository for public records and laid the foundations for the 1838 Act. Private records were drawn to the government's attention by keen amateurs. The biographer and antiquarian George Harris suggested at the first Congress for the Promotion of Social Science in Birmingham in 1857 that private owners be offered help to catalogue their papers.12 He proposed a survey of private records, undertaken by special inspectors from the British Museum Manuscripts Department. Although his proposal was rejected then, Harris persisted and in 1869, a Royal Commission for Historical Manuscripts was appointed. William Phillimore, a solicitor and editor of the British Record Society who founded the publishing business Phillimore and Co. in 1897, kept up the pressure on government, this time for records of local government. In 1889 he proposed that 'the best means for ensuring the safe custody and preservation of provincial records' was a Central Record Board to replace the Royal Commission for Historical Manuscripts and oversee the work of new county record offices, 'established as depositories for local records'.13 The Board, chaired by the Master of the Rolls, would inspect all depositories, issue 'rules for the construction, arrangement and maintenance of public record offices', approve the appointment of local Deputy Keepers of Records and regulate the establishment of new local archives. Such a dream of a regulated, centralised, national system was never realised. The strength of UK legislation for different sectors varies from mandatory legislation for central government records to weaker enabling legislation for local archives. Limited protection is afforded to local government archives (by the Local Government (Records) Act 1962 and the Local Government Act 1972), although information policy legislation (data protection and freedom of information) began to improve legislative provision for records and archives in the late 20th century. In England legislation has tended to confirm existing developments rather than drive future expansion. Engagement with policy makers improved as archivists identified key political issues and sought to show how archives could contribute to them. In the last two decades of the 20th century, a strong link developed with ideas of community and individual identity construction, memory and social inclusion and the role of records in civil rights, justice, transparency and accountability. New policy developments in the early 21st century offered hope of a stronger future strategy. A complex and distinct occupation The second theme is the identification of a complex and distinct occupation. In England, an identifiable occupation developed after the Public Record Office building in Chancery Lane was begun in 1851, although it was confined to a few ELIZABETH SHEPHERD ARCHIVISTS IN 21ST CENTURY EUROPE: EMERGING PROFESSIONALS? 12 Roger Ellis 'The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts: a short history and explanation' Manuscripts and Men London: HMSO (1969): 6-7. 13 Draft of a Bill entitled an Act for the Preservation of Public and Private Records' 1889; Press cutting 'The Athenaeum' 13 March 1889; press cutting 'The Reliquary' July 1889 Phillimore miscellanea - preservation of records, Institute of Historical Research, London. 43

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Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2010 | | pagina 45