Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
  Hem Aktuellt  Tidigare nummer Bli Medlem  Annonsera Om Historisk Tidskrift  För skribenter  Föreningen In English

Historisk tidskrift 126:4 • 2006

Innehåll (Contents) 2006:4

Uppsatser (Articles)

Bonden, Bilden och Arkivet

Göran Samuelsson

Fulltext (pdf)


The Peasant, the Picture and the Archive

What traces do we leave to posterity and which of them will future generations use to analyse and describe the past? It is important to make historians more aware of the growing extent to which our own time is documented in other media than paper. We also need to realise that source material less and less frequently take the form of documents. Future history will be impoverished if historians leave the analysis of pictures to art historians, the Internet to informaticians and librarians, and the analysis of film and television to students of these media.

This article argues that historians should approach alternative types of media in four different ways and demonstrates the use of the first two. The four different levels reflect a growing faith in the picture as bearer of information content. They could work:

  • as an illustration to the text;
  • as a complement to the text;
  • as an independent source – telling its own history;
  • as a reflection of past reality and society.

Digital photos, the moving images of the cinema, together with the sound of the radio and the mixed media of the television will in the future all be included in the Internet community together with digital texts. This makes it both important and urgent to find new ways for historians to analyse and interpret these media in relation to existing epistemological methods. Unless the traditional historian of texts finds ways in which to incorporate these new media in his or her analysis, new professional groups will arise who will assume the role of the historian and restrict the latter to become an expert solely on texts from the period circa 1500–2010.


manor, agricultural workers, peasants, customary tenants, archive, images, sound and moving images, records