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Ein neues Gedächtnis für die Verwaltung: born digitals und die Wissenschaft. Ein Tagungsbericht

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The article reports on the workshop »born digitals und die historische Wissenschaft – Annäherungen an eine Quellenkunde für genuin elektronisches Archivmaterial«, which was organized by the State Archives of North Rhine-Westphalia in Duisburg on August 30th and 31st, 2022. The workshop established a dialogue between archivists and historians to address the epistemological, methodological, and technological challenges and opportunities of archiving and analyzing digital administrative records. The article situates these debates in a longer history of efforts to document administrative practices. Thus, the article highlights that the established archival order of written records was the contingent outcome of three interlinked transformation processes that occurred around 1900 in administrations and archives: 1) loose paper files started to replace records bound together in books transforming the file as the primary medium for documenting administrative practice, 2) the chronological organization of records in the registry gave way to an order based on subject categories, 3) archivists started to establish the principle of provenance as a principle of structuring archival collections. Thus, rather than treating digitalization as a crisis, it is seen as a transformative period of documentation practices, which brings its specific opportunities and challenges.