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Allt som finns kvar: Om personarkiv hos föräldrar som förlorat små barn
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of ALM.
2013 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
All That's Left Behind: Personal Archives of Parents Who've lost Infants (English)
Abstract [en]

The object of this two years master's thesis has been to study a specific genre of personal archives by examiningthe archives of nine parents who have lost one or several infants. Using internet-based methods, (e-mail, Skypeand digital photographs), I have conducted qualitative research using a general interview guide technique. Usingresearch from archival theory as well as other fields, my material has been arranged and analysed according tothemes and recurring thoughts picked up from my informants during the interviews.My main theoretical aid has been that the role of parent who has lost a child is the starting point for the creationof the personal archives. Another important theory is my definition of the term “document” as not dependent onmedium and format, but on usage: if an object has been used as a part of an archive, it is a document. I also claimthat study of personal archives is a way to help the archival profession and Swedish archival theory to becomemore democratic and inclusive, since especially the former is mandated to reflect all of society's many manifestationsof culture and memory. The results show that the archives contain a large selection of documents in differentformats and mediums, but that they also have many similarities. This is an effect of the fact that the parentshave all had roughly the same document-creating contacts with their relatives and friends, the authorities and theother parts of society often involved in the events proceeding the child's birth and death (or sickness and death).The reasons to create and maintain a personal archive are to preserve the memories of events, people, places,thoughts and feelings associated with the child and whatever time the parents got to spend with him or her. By remembering,the parents are also confirming the child's existence and place within the family, and helping themselvesconfirm their newly acquired role as parents who have lost a child. The archives and their constituent partsare used as physical and psychological “linking objects”, to help the parents feel (at least temporary) closer totheir child by watching, touching or talking about the most important documents. These are often the ones displayedon special memory shelves, on family photo walls or in memory boxes. It follows that arrangement of thedocuments is based mostly on the emotional attachment of the parent to the individual document, and that destructionof records are extremely rare in the studied archives. Their growth diminished with time, but does notstop completely since the parents, other relatives and friends still create new documents, mostly to observe holidaysand anniversaries. Furthermore, the way the parents use their archives and its constituent parts change astime passes. Individual documents may also change their emotional and cultural significance to the parent, orgain additional ones. Some of the underlying factors behind these findings are my informants views on creating,keeping and destroying documents. They all express a need to “save everything”, and most also want to “documenteverything”. The latter, their wish to create new documents to complement the ones created primarily byothers and as a result of specific events and processes, comes from a feeling of not having enough documents inthe archives. It can also be the result of dissatisfaction with those that do exist. Finally, as is commonplace amongpersonal archives, the archives in my study have multiple record creators within the immediate family and outsideit, even though my informants are usually the main creators. This is a two years master’s thesis in Archive,Library and Museum studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 89 p.
Keyword [en]
Personal archives, Archival materials, Appraisal of archival materials, Parental grief, Parenthood
Keyword [sv]
Personarkiv, Arkivmaterial, Arkivvetenskap, Arkivgallring, Proveniensprincipen, Föräldraskap
National Category
Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-200596Local ID: 125OAI: diva2:624389
Subject / course
Archival Science
Educational program
Master Programme in ALM
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-06-19 Created: 2013-05-31 Last updated: 2013-06-19Bibliographically approved

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