Archival Word of the Week: Provenance

Rugby playerEvery archival collection is unique, and the individual documents within them are likely to be unique as well, so it’s essential to establish where a collection has come from, and what has happened to it over time – so that researchers can then judge the quality of the material, and place it within a context where it can be interpreted. Descriptions on the Archives Hub provide details of provenance under the headings ‘Custodial History’ and ‘Immediate Source of Acquistion’. Archivists and researchers also use the phrase ‘chain of custody’ or ‘chain of ownership’ when discussing provenance.