Sorry to come back to this subject, but by coincidence the following was
posted to the American archives and archivists listserv:
"From: infotegrity [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 8:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: In Search of the Humourous Archivist
Why is it that so little archival humour has surfaced? Why does an
search for items related to this topic produce....nothing. Why are there
archivist stand-up comics? And, perhaps the most galling question, why do
others with far less interesting professions attract all the funny stories,
amusing anecdotes, terrible puns and ribald limericks?
Is the lack of archival humour a compliment to the profession or is it a
serious case of neglect?
I'm convinced it is the latter and I would like to do my part to correct
this terrible wrong.
In my many years in a public archive, I worked with colleagues who had a
great sense of humour. They needed it to deal with both the professional
challenges of their work as well as with the questions, quibbles and quirks
of researchers and donors. While patience has always been an important
qualification for an archivist, a good sense of humour must surely be close
Ian Wilson, the National Archivist of Canada and a former colleague, has
used a small repertoire of humourous anecdotes in most of his public
speaking. He has often remarked that it is easier to find new audiences
than to find new archival jokes.
An example: Ian married a woman who is also an archivist. At their
wedding, a friend remarked that a marriage of two archivists was perfect
because, as they grew older, they would become more and more interested in
I would like to invite your assistance in defining and expanding the body
archival humour. The purpose? To form the basis for a paper,
Web site or other means of disseminating collected and new material. The
reward? Your contribution to changing the public image of archivists and
archives, as well as the prospect of future amusement.
Responses can cover the range of humourous forms, such as:
- stories and anecdotes
- signs and notices
- aphorisms, epigrams, similes and metaphors
- limericks and other humourous verse
- put-downs and come-backs
They can relate to any aspect of archiving, archivists and archival
institutions, such as:
- the nature of the profession and archival stereotypes
- relations between archivists, records managers and other
- dealings with researchers
- dealings with donors and sponsors
- archival selection, appraisal, organization, description,
- archivists and technology
- archival collections in all media
- workplace humour
- historical events and individuals in archival records
- archival language and terminology
- archival services and publications
- news reporting about archives and archivists
Some "rules": Offerings may be about real experiences, people, locations,
etc. or they may be fanciful fabrications. Personally identifiable
information about another individual should generally be avoided or have
permission of that person for distribution. Information about the origin
the material should be provided, if known. No copyright or other legal
rights should be infringed. All submissions sent directly to me will be
acknowledged, but use or publication is not assured.
Please send any material to me directly at [log in to unmask] .
received before September 15 would be especially appreciated. Comments and
suggestions of any kind regarding this project are also welcome. Please
excuse cross postings.
So you now have your chance to send those highly witty and amusing stories
(or dreadful puns) to someone who will appreciate them.
Whilst we're on this subject, the American listserv regularly has messages
about whether humour or topics which are not strictly archive related
should have a place on the listserv. This usually starts a great debate
which goes on for days and which can go off at weird and wonderful
tangents. Most of the humour tends to appear on a Friday and such messages
are known as 'Friday funnies'. Someone has already pointed out to Andy
Lipchak that a search under 'Friday Funnies' on the American archives
listserv website will find examples of humour, and soneone else gave
examples of several websites which have library related humour (is such a
thing possible.....no I didn't say that).
I know this message should have been posted on a Friday but I check my
American archive listserv digest first thing in the morning along with all
my other e-mails, and I knew that this message was so important that I had
to send it straight away.
Finally, a word of warning if you feel inclined to subscribe to the
American listserv. If you do, opt for a digest, otherwise your PC will
collapse under the weight of messages sent. A digest also has subject
headings at the start so you can read these to see if there is anything of
interest before deleting immediately or reading the digest.