This essay suggests the etymologies of emergence, emergency, and crisis create a useful framework for theorizing documents. Indeed, the overlapping semantic associations of the words allow for the idea that documents emerge in crisis. The semantic overlap also allows a means for theorizing how documents descend into crisis. Theorizing documents in crisis, the essay argues, usefully complements documentalist theories of documentary representation suggested by thinkers like Paul Otlet and Suzanne Briet, as well newer conceptualizations of documentality as conceived by Michael Buckland and Maurizio Ferraris and documentarity as described by Ronald Day.

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