Bureaucracy : Remembering


It is perhaps in remembering that the love story of bureaucracy is most powerful. Whether lists of the war dead or travel guides that allow one to keep mementos of travel, bureaucratic forms stabilize the past, thus allowing it to be recalled.  Forms of remembering fix information about the past on the page or in the archive, thus ensuring that the past will take material form.  In this way, bureaucracy renders the past accessible and ensures the significance of individual moments and memories for the future. 

The Brewer Family papers were collected by Melvin E. Brewer, a native of Dallas, Texas. The collection includes family journals, letters (including love letters, remembrances, and personal anecdotes), newspaper clippings, church pamphlets, a Hawaiian-themed Christmas dinner menu from 1938, poetry, addresses and birthdays of family members, files on individual family members, and family group records. The oldest document in the collection is a 1908 marriage certificate, but some of the files on individual family members cover the collection’s most recent content from 2005.

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The Casualty Lists contain the names of American soldiers killed in action, wounded, missing, imprisoned, and deceased (from disease, wounds, or accident) during World War I.  They also include information about the soldier’s next of kin and emergency address. 

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The first edition of the Negro Year Book appeared in 1912. It was published by Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and funded by Booker T. Washington, the first principal of Tuskegee. The Year Book was part of a larger project dedicated to “collecting and circulating information favorable to the Negro” (Guzman). 

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John Murray III’s (1808–1892) A Handbook for Travellers in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden is the third edition of a volume in his popular series of red travel guidebooks, which were published throughout the nineteenth century. Although Murray’s handbooks were first published in England, they quickly began to circulate beyond the British Isles and eventually sold between 500,000 and 700,000 copies per European country throughout the nineteenth century. Generally, these guidebooks were designed for a middle-class audience, who began to travel beyond the British Isles at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The books aimed to offer a thorough yet user-friendly source of information that would allow travelers to make their way independently through entire countries and continents (Damien 19).

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