Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The "archives = dusty" archive

It's well known that journalists will rarely write the noun "archive" without being seized by the need to add the adjective "dusty." I've always been meaning to build, well, an archive of examples. Here's one, from Michael Posner's Globe & Mail feature on the revival of "Billy Bishop Goes to War," the classic theatre piece by John McLachlan Gray and Eric Peterson, at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto:
They spent a week researching in a dusty military archive in Ottawa and discovered some treasures: wartime letters from Bishop to his wife and family.
I must say in my experience archives are notably undusty. They tend, indeed, to be almost antiseptically clean, well-lit, orderly places, with sophisticated climate control systems and professional office cleaners coming by regularly. I've even been in the Ottawa military archive Gray and Peterson most likely visited, and it was clean as a whistle.

But the idea that an archives resembles your eccentric great-uncle's attic probably cannot be eradicated.
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