Email is a primary source of historical change since the 1990s. Email archives are, therefore, a new, born-digital type of archives of near contemporary history, a history now starting to come under historical scrutiny. To 'do' the 1990s well, historians will need histories of email, methods for working with email, and reflections of whether email-as-archive creates tensions with archival practice and traditions. James Baker will outline the initial steps of this work. He will talk about three historical sources of how people encountered and negotiated this form of communication circa 1990-2007: the Mass Observation Archive, the Enron email archive and a linguistic email corpus from this period.
James Baker is Lecturer at the University of Sussex, UK, in Digital History and Archives, and a faculty member of the Sussex Humanities Lab.