A noticeable feature of academic writing of earlier times is that authors were allowed to express their passion, and by crikey did they get passionate about their subjects. The following is a series of quotes from Hubert Hall 1908 Studies in English Official Historical Documents Cambridge University Press. This is a working guide to the English Public Records, with a bit of concise history about the various classes of records and what happened to them over the centuries. Pretty dry stuff, you might think, but the following decontexted grabs express some of his feeling about how the records were treated during the 18th and 19th centuries:
“... we have to deplore almost incalculable losses through premature decay and systematic abstractions. These losses are chiefly due to the deliberate neglect of later official custodians and to the still more wanton refusal of the parliaments and ministries of the 18th and even the 19th century to adopt the simplest precautions ofr their safekeeping.”
Hubert Hall would no doubt be much delighted with the way in which the Public Records are now housed, and made available for study; another subject on which he expresses strong opinions. He would also, no doubt, be pleased that since his time local record offices have acquired back vast numbers of records that were in private hands, another area that he laments. Not much to be done about the glue or the rats though.
Perhaps the main point is that modern writings tend to be laden with jargon and complex conceptual baggage, and nobody want to be caught out having an emotionally charged opinion about such matters. After all, Hubert doesn't give the impression that archivists were the dull sort of people of their (probably unfairly ascribed) reputation. We can never convince governments about the importance of educational matters if we just jabber in tongues among ourselves, and never let rip with our angst and passion.