The Identity Complex: The Portrayal of Archivists in Film

  • Amanda Oliver (Archives Society of Alberta)
  • Anne Daniel (Western University)


Archivists are depicted in various forms of media, and these representations influence how the world perceives the profession. This study, building on previous research, investigates how archivists are portrayed in film. The authors identified 43 films featuring archivists and conducted a content analysis of each film. The study reveals the lack of a clear image of archivists, who are presented as complex and sometimes ambiguous individuals. Many characters exhibit multifaceted personalities, and few fit the stereotypical qualities identified in previous research studies. This lack of a defined image may stem from a dearth of understanding of the archives profession among both the general public and individuals in the film industry. This poses a significant threat to the profession because it could lead to a lack of funding and an inability to attract donors, researchers, and future archivists. The archives profession must respond to these misconceptions and ambiguous images by engaging in proactive and consistent outreach. The search for a clear identity for archivists is ongoing. It offers an opportunity to generate discussion about the profession within the archival community and to make our complex professional identity accessible to the greater community.

How to Cite:

Oliver, A. & Daniel, A., (2015) “The Identity Complex: The Portrayal of Archivists in Film”, Archival Issues 37(1), 48–70. doi:

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Published on
31 Dec 2014
Peer Reviewed