The Fictional World of Archives,
Art Galleries and Museums
NOTE (FEBRUARY 2009): A NEW VERSION OF THE FICTIONAL WORLD OF ARCHIVES, ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT AT HTTP://FICTIONALARCHIVES.BLOGSPOT.COM
NEW AS OF SEPTEMBER 8, 2005: Revenue raised through the
programs helps support the recovery of Tulane University in New Orleans whose manuscripts librarian/archivist Leon Miller first hosted this Web site on my behalf. All external links
on this page should open a new browser window.
Archives, archivists, records managers,
secret documents and lost manuscripts have been used as characters, settings
and plot devices in many stories, novels, movies and TV shows, as well as jokes
and cartoons. The tradition of fictionalizing archives extends back to
Graeco-Roman times according to classicist Mary
Lefkowitz. Today, archives, archivists and records are so important to
fiction that this Web page was written to document as fully as possible their
many representations found in popular culture. Inspiration for this Web page
came from a 1995 discussion on the ARCHIVES electronic mailing list about
fictional archives. Sources include submissions by archivists and others, as
well as Arlene Schmuland's bibliography from her American Archivist article.
Beginning on November 7, 1999, this site started tracking fictional
representations of art galleries and museums.
This site is under continual development, so bookmark it now and come
FICTIONAL ARCHIVISTS AND CURATORS
- The Archivist is played by Robert S. Young in the film Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959)
- Brigid Baptiste,
archivist in a furture Earth ravaged by a nuclear holocaust.
- Carolyn Briggs, Chief Achivist, Howard
Foundation, produced the "abridged popular edition" that forms Robert A.
Heinlein's Time Enough for Love (1973).
- Pavel Dubrov is the Russian hero and archivist in Travis Holland's first novel The Archivist's Story (2007)
- Justin Foote the 45th, Chief Archivist,
Howard Foundation, is the fictional author of Robert A. Heinlein's Time
Enough for Love (1973).
- Le Genéalogiste, French Nobility
Family Historian, Court of Versailles, 1780s, is a minor character in the film
- Mikhail Goncharov, retired archivist
for the KGB and based on real-life archivist Vasili Mitrokhin who defected
to Great Britain in 1992, is one of the heroes in Stephen Coonts' Liars
& Thieves (2004).
- Sven Hebert-Draskovics is a human archivist among the alien species known as Pierson's Puppeteers; he is introduced in Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner's Fleet of Worlds (2007).
- Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, kills to become a
manuscript curator at the Capponi Library in Florence, Italy.
- Donato Maggio, assistant
archivist, Vatican City, Italy, stereotyped as "an archival mouse" in John
Case's The Genesis Code (1997).
- Karl Moran, a university archivist working in the United States, is the protagonist in Richard Teleky's novel Pack Up the Moon (2001).
- Mr. Naryan is the Archivist of Sensch in the short story "Recording Angel" by Paul J. McAuley (1995)
- Madame Jocasta Nu, Jedi Archivist/Librarian,
Jedi Archives, planet Corsucant, in a galaxy a long time ago, and far, far away.
- T.J. Quill is a film critic in Hugh Leonard's novel A Wild People who then gets to act as the archivist for Sean O'Fearna, which happens to be the given name of American-born movie director John Ford.
- Ben Reese, American archivist and former
intelligence agent, is the subject of three novels (as of March 2000) by Sally
- Rorden is the Keeper of the Records in Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night (1953) and Clarke and Gregory Benford's Beyond the Fall of Night (1990)
- Roman Petrovich Rozov, Senior Archivist,
Federal Intelligence Service, appears in Martin Cruz Smith's Havana Bay
- Valentino, film
archivist, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was created by Loren
D. Estleman and featured in a series of stories published in Ellery Queen's
Mystery Magazine beginning in March 1998.
"PASTA PROLOGUE"*: ARCHIVAL AND
- Archive, a British rock band, reported by Terry Cook to the ARCAN-L mailing list on January 16, 2003, as "some sort of bastard child of Radiohead and Pink Floyd" (a quote from an unnamed source). Check out their Web site for an excellent, promotional use of "archival" (historical) records.
- The Dead Media
Project (via Tom Jennings, successor to Ian Campbell's site) is science
fiction author Bruce Sterling's initiative to document through Internet
communications examples since time immemorial of defunct communications media.
Alternate URL: The Dead Media Project Text Archive (link inactive as of
January 29, 2000) is sponsored by the
Media History Project
Inc. which also documents and contains links to various Web sites on the
history of mass media.
*Originated by Professor Luciana Duranti, School of Library,
Archival and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
TRACK DOWN MORE FICTIONAL ARCHIVISTS AND
look under Arts. AltaVista uses data from the Open Directory Directory. You can also search this most
famous of search engines. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
is the Canadian version of Amazon.com established in 2002.
- Amazon.com: search and buy books, music, videos, and
- Archaeology in Fiction Bibliography by Anita G.
Cohen-Williams (Summer 1994) is an annotated bibliography of fiction about archaeologists and
their finds, some of which are archival in nature (for example, ancient
scrolls) or feature museums. None of the entries are more current than
1994. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
- Art Historians' Guide to the Movies by Craig Eliason
- Bibliomysteries was created by Marsha McCurley (1951-2004)
and contains references to
archives and archivists featured in mysteries. The site was redesigned and taken over in 2006, with permission of Marsha McCurley's husband, by Valerie
McKay. Date updated:
- Chapters.ca: search and buy books, music, videos, DVDs, and
software in Canadian dollars; free shipping for purchases over $50.
- Conservation Fiction (Or Fiction that Acknowledges the Existence of Conservation and Conservators) compiled by Rebecca Anne Rushfield and Patricia S. Griffin. Hosted by Conservation OnLine: Resources for Conservation Professionals. Date added: 2005-03-14.
- Day, David Howard. A Treasure Hard to Attain: Images of Archaeology in Popular Film with a Filmography. Scarecrow Press (UK); Rowman & Littlefield (US), 1997.
- Google Directory: look in the Arts category where there are various
subcategories for Literature; Movies; Television and several others. uses data from the Open Directory Directory. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
- The Internet Movie
Database: search and buy videos and books.
- The Mysterious Home Page created by Jan B. Steffensen (1995); edited by Kate Derie, aka ClueLass. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
Writers of America includes a comprehensive set of links to
Mystery Fiction sites. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
- MysteryNet.com neatly describes thousands of mysteries in
- The Mystery Place is the official site for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
- Open Directory Project (DMOZ). Started in 1998 and owned by Netscape, one of the first publicly edited, collaborative Web sites whose contents are incorporated into several other directory sites, notably AltaVista and Google. Look under Arts where there are several relevant subcategories to get you started. Date added: 2005-03-14.
- The Portrayal of Archaeology and Archaeologists in Motion Pictures
- Taylor, David. Digging Up Hollywood: The Portrayal of Archaeology and Archaeologists in Motion Pictures. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2000.
- Thrilling Detective Web Site tracks fictional detectives in
novels, stories, comics and broadcast media.
- Yahoo! Directory: look
under Arts & Humanities and Entertainment for starters.
Yahoo! has built-in search and retrieval. Date updated: 2005-03-14.
Other Web-based search engines and navigational aids can be found
through the Victoria Telecommunity Network (BC, Canada)
Information Services Page.
REAL-WORLD ARCHIVES, ART GALLERIES
& MUSEUMS VIA CYBERSPACE
Visit some real archives through the
Repositories of Primary Sources list maintained by Terry
Abraham (University of Idaho). Other important site for archivists and
Aldred, Tania, Burr, Gordon and Park, Eun. "Crossing a Librarian with a Historian: The Image of Reel Archivists." Archivaria no. 66 (Fall 2008): 57-93.
Bantock, Nick. Urgent 2nd Class: Creating Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, and Other Art from Ephemera. Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2004. Artist Nick Bantock, best known for his extraordinary Griffin & Sabine sextet of novels made up entirely of faux documents, explains in this book how he creates his visually stimulating pieces of art, including a category he calls "dubious documents" or imaginary historical records.
Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across
Millennia. New York: Avon Books, 1999; paperback reprint, New York:
HarperCollins, 2000. The physicist and science fiction author expounds upon
mankind's attempts to establish permanent or unknowable bridges between the
present and the future. Science fiction novels are discussed. Except for "cave
paintings" listed under monuments, there are no mentions of archives, art
galleries or museums in the index! This is an important work for archivists and
curators, nonetheless, because of lessons that can be learned from the four
topics Benford has chosen to illustrate his thesis: protective measures for
radioactive waste; deep-space probes bearing messages; species extinction; and
Buckley, Karen. "'The Truth is in the Red Files': An Overview of Archives in Popular Culture." Archivaria no. 66 (Fall 2008): 95-123.
Cox, Richard J. "What Should the Fictional Archivist Look Like?", Reading Archives (Weblog), November 26, 2006. URL (viewed March 3, 2007): http://readingarchives.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-should-fictional-archivist-look.html. Professor Cox discusses his ideas about the portrayal of archives and archivists by fiction writers.
Gillis, Peter (1947-1999). "Of Plots, Secrets,
Burrowers and Moles: Archives in Espionage Fiction." Archivaria no. 9
(Winter 1979-80): 3-13.
Keen, Suzanne. Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 2003.
Lefkowitz, Mary. Not Out of Africa: How
Afrocentrist Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. New York:
BasicBooks, 1996. Read portions of this
Schmuland, Arlene B. "The Archival Image
in Fiction: An Analysis with an Annotated Bibliography." American
Archivist 62, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 24-73. An abridged version of her
thesis. The titles in her bibliography are listed in NOVELS AND THEIR AUTHORS and SHORT STORIES AND THEIR AUTHORS.
Schmuland, Arlene B. "The Image of
Archives and Archivists: Fictional Perspectives." M.A. Thesis, Western
Washington University, August, 1997. See the American Archivist citation
above for a condensed version and updated list of fictional works.
Credits and Colophon
Created 1996.01.31 by David Mattison, a
photo/film historian/bibliographer/Canadian Internet/Web content creator and retired archivist
with the British
Columbia Archives, Victoria, Canada, and Leon Miller,
Manuscripts Librarian, Special Collections Division, Howard-Tilton Memorial
Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Thank you Lee for nearly two years of unflagging Web site
support. I couldn't have done it without you! October 5, 1997
With Special Thanks To
- Pennington P. Ahlstrand for donating a number of books annotated and
dog-eared with references to archivists.
- Arlene Schmuland for providing me
with the American Archivist issue.
- Shelley Sweeney for donating a number of books with references to archivists.
- Karen Buckley and Tania Aldred, my co-presenters at the Association of Canadian Archivists 2007 Conference.
- Readers of the ARCAN-L and ARCHIVES mailing lists who have contributed many suggestions since 1996.
This site and its pages may be freely linked to but not duplicated in
any fashion without the consent of David Mattison.
Web site hosted by the Victoria Telecommunity Network at
Suggestions for The Fictional World of
Archives, Art Galleries and Museums may be e-mailed to
(d m a t t i s o n - AT - s h a w - DOT - c a). If you would like to submit a film, TV program, or published fictional
representation of an archives or archivist, please follow the format in the
Just Cause or The
X-Files HTML (source document) files.
Clipart sourced and modified from the IMSI Masterclips and Corel
Compiled by David Mattison; © 1996-2009. Text submissions
copyrighted by their respective authors.