Mapping Collective Memory Literature

Ana Roeschley


While we may have always known that our memories are impacted and shaped by those around us, we did not clearly articulate this until close to the mid 20th century when the concept of collective memory was originated by sociologist Maurice Halbwachs in 1941. Halbwachs states that “there exists a collective memory and social frameworks for memory; it is to the degree that our individual thought places itself in these frameworks and participates in this memory that it is capable of the art of recollection” (Halbwachs, and Coser, 1992, p. 38).

From Halbwachs to present day, collective memory has permeated a number of disciplines including history, philosophy, psychology, political science, and information science. In the field of information science, collective memory research is not vast. However, it has become a feature of archival scholarship, particularly in literature that focuses on the intersections of identity, archives, power, and evidence.

To identify important descriptors and major research themes in collective memory literature, this study employed text mining and a visualization approach; refereed scholarly articles on collective memory were retrieved using multiple databases. The title-abstract-keyword segment of each paper was imported to determine frequently occurring words and phrases used in the literature. The co-occurrences of words and phrases were exported into a network visualization tool to display major topics and themes in collective memory. Additionally, a correspondence analysis was conducted to create a map highlighting the overlap among themes in succeeding time periods.

Halbwachs, M., & Coser, L. A. (1992). On collective memory. University of Chicago Press.



Ana Roeschley is doctoral student in the College of Information at the University of North Texas. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin, an MS in Library and Information Science and an MA in History from Simmons College. Before starting her PhD program, Ana worked as a librarian at Huston-Tillotson University where she successfully implemented the university’s first archival program. Currently in the first year of her PhD program, Ana’s research interests include collective memory, community archives, and participatory archival culture.