The Procrustean Bed: A History of the Arrangement of the Al Purdy Fonds.
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In 1969, Queen's University purchased the first set of papers from Al Purdy, one of Canada's foremost literary figures of the twentieth century. Over five decades and eleven accruals, a number of archivists have left their signature on the organization of these papers. The result of this varied influence on the arrangement of the fonds has resulted in a scattered sequence of incompatible series. This case study examines the factors that influenced the practical application of arrangement theories in one institution, Queen's University Archives, from the perspective of an archivist having to navigate different contexts of arrangement throughout the acquisition history of the fonds. Through interviews with the donor and with former archivists, who had arranged specific accruals to the Al Purdy fonds, as well as through research of the institutional practices and training of Queen's University archivists, the paper examines the milieu in which series and sub-series expanded and altered within one fonds. The paper also examines how traditions of arrangement are created and propagated over time, and how the misguided pursuit of "original order" over an entire fonds can perpetuate false constructs.