ARCHIVAL THEORY AND THE DUTCH MANUAL
a methodology on the basis of archival theory, through careful observation and analysis of phenomena. De Stuers and Muller, however, with Muller's pupil Fruin, favoured a normative approach: instead of archival theory they wanted binding directives, which in 1897 were issued by ministerial decree.26The directives were, however, limited in scope. They started with a definition of archief (fonds) and prescribed the respect desfonds in distinguishing and arranging archives in a State archives reposi- tory. One year later, the Society of Dutch Archivists published the Manual by Muller, Feith, and Fruin. In the preface the authors assured their readers that they did not wish to place the rules of the Manual "like a heavy yoke on the shoulders of our colleagues. We shall not mind if there are deviations from them in certain details or even in essentials." In fact, however, Muller desired that the Manual would influ- ence, "even perhaps for ever would decide," the line of conduct of Dutch archivist^.^^ Muller--a disputatious, sharp-tongued militant, who in his polemics always wanted to carry his pointz8--wasresponsible for the polemic style of the Manual and for its vigorous defense against the heretics and the unbeliever^.^'
The Manual of 1898 soon became known as "the one hundred regelsW--onecan translate that as "principles" (as Van Riemsdijk would have done) or as "rules" (as Muller, Fruin, and later generations understood it), rules which no one dared to chal- lenge, especially not in front of Muller (who was President of the Dutch Society until 1920) and Fruin (who, as President from 1920 to 1932 and as General State Archivist from 1912to 1932,in fact ruled the Dutch archives). Fruin, even according to Muller, "executed the programme very drastically and even rather one-~idedly."~~ What had begun as one hundred principles with explanations, guiding a starting profession, hardened into unquestionable dogmas.
The normative character of archival methodology, codified in the Manual, kept Dutch archival theory petrified for a very long time.jl The standardization, part of the process of professionalization of Dutch archivists, blocked the development of archival theory. This "paradox of professional quality" was characterized by the first Dutch professor in archival science, Van der Gouw, in his remark that Dutch archi- vists often took "how it should be" for "how it is."32Compare this with Terry Cook's observation of North-American archivists: "Yet by asking 'what' and 'how' instead of 'why,' these archivists did not get behind the procedures, methods, and technolo- gies of archival work to probe its deeper meaning, which is the study of records and their relationship to society at large."'3
In the past, now and again, Dutch archivists lamented about the need to do more scientific work--as opposed to inventorying archives and managing archival institu- tions. By science, however, they mostly meant historiography, not archival science.34 Recently Theo Thomassen, director of the Dutch Archives School, remarked that the Dutch archival system is well organized, but that any intellectual discussion about the theoretical foundations of the ~rofessio is not favoured. Archival science. he continues, has not a high status ahong Dutch archivists, who rather present their trade as performing tricks, not to be made difficult by a lot of theory. This is not only the case in the Netherlands. Angelika Menne-Haritz from Germany remarks: "archi- val science ... reduced to an exercise of practical skills ...represents in the minds of archivists an aspect of professional identity that can be safely neglected."" Thomassen complains that archival theory is insufficiently supplied with input from the profes-