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Tuesday, April 24 • 10:40am - 11:00am
Capturing Identity: Using Institutional Recordkeeping Systems to Explore Personal Records (UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES in PDA)

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In this presentation, we will briefly introduce the Bertillon system of criminal identification as a means of exploring the functions of records created both by and about incarcerated individuals, as well as archival distinctions between institutional and personal records. Although the Bertillon system was implemented for a relatively short period of time (roughly 1890 until the end of World War I), the practice reverberates through contemporary methods of criminal identification and documentation.

These prison records, created for institutional purposes to curb recidivism, are a type of personal record that is not created by the individual but is nonetheless personal. Through our work with Bertillon records over the past three years, we’ve traced the movement of individual identification cards from the moment of creation through to their present-day archival custody.

This work has raised a number of questions and concerns for our research team, which we will explore in our presentation:
- How do our interpretations of privacy change depending on context?
- What is the role of the archive in mediating access to these types of personal records? Are we responsible for controlling access to these materials, especially if our own ethical concerns deviate from the official access policies of the institution where the records actually reside?
- What is the role of recordkeeping in perpetuating the notion of invisible labor?
- How do official recordkeeping practices impact particularly vulnerable populations?  

avatar for Chelsea Gunn

Chelsea Gunn

Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh
Chelsea Gunn is a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Computing and Information. Previously, she has worked in a variety of archives and cultural heritage settings. Her research is grounded in personal archives, digital preservation, and professional ethi... Read More →
avatar for Aisling Quigley

Aisling Quigley

Doctoral Candidate, University of Pittsburgh
As a practitioner/scholar of the information sciences, Aisling engages in research related to information organization, digital preservation, interactive narrative production, and usability. Although she works primarily within the context of museums, Aisling is motivated to improve... Read More →

Tuesday April 24, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am CDT
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavillion University of Houston M.D. Anderson Library, 4333 University Drive, Houston, TX

Attendees (5)