The MAS and After: Transubstantiating Theory and Practice into an Archival Culture

  • Richard Klumpenhouwer


Does the Master of Archival Studies Programme (MAS) produce archival graduates who are all theory and no practice? To deal with this charge, the author explores his own history as an MAS graduate and archival practitioner. He contends that the MAS experience transcended merely acquiring theoretical or practical knowledge and that, therefore, the dichotomy does not really apply. The whole process served as a kind of initiation into an archival culture. The graduate student's theorizing and practicing go beyond learning ideas, facts, or methods; they are rituals and ordeals on the road to archival adulthood. The development of this identify with the theories, practices, and personalities of archival culture sustains graduates as they live out their careers in the larger world.


Une Maitrise en études archivistiques produit-elle des théoriciens sans connaissances pratiques? Pour répondre àcette question, l'auteur explore sa propre démarche de diplômé en études archivistiques et son expérience d'archiviste. I1 soutient que son expérience transcende l'acquisition d'un savoir théorique ou pratique. Pareille dichotomie n'existe pas. L'ensemble du processus s'avère plutôt une initiation àla culture archivistique. L'effort théorique et l'exercice de la pratique outrepassent les idées reçues, les faits, ou les méthodes; elles constituent davantage des rituels et des épreuves initiatiques sur la route de la maturité archivistique. Le développement de cette identité, conjointement avec les théories, les pratiques, et les grands noms de la culture archivistique soutiennent les diplômés durant leurs carrières professionnelles.

Author Biography

Richard Klumpenhouwer
Richard Klumpenhouwer was a student in the Master of Archival Studies programme at the University of British Columbia from 1984 to 1986 and received his MAS degree in 1988. He also holds an MA in History from the University of Western Ontario. He has been Archivist of the Legal Society of Alberta in Calgary since its inception in 1990 and prior to that worked at the City of Calgary Archives. He has published in areas of archival appraisal and legal archives.
How to Cite
Klumpenhouwer, Richard. 1995. “The MAS and After: Transubstantiating Theory and Practice into an Archival Culture”. Archivaria 39 (May), 88-95.