Disgust and Fascination

Feminist Ethics of Care and the Ted Bundy Investigative Files


  • Amanda Demeter Tacoma Community College




Content warning: murder, sexual assault, corporal punishment

The King County Archives is home to records created by the King County Office of Public Safety and its successor agency, the Sheriff's Office. Among the records held by the King County Archives are police investigative files created during the disappearance and murder investigations of a number of young women killed in the 1970s. These files would colloquially become known as the “Ted Bundy collection” to both staff and researchers. This article, written from the perspective of a processing archivist working on the “Ted Bundy collection,” explores how emotionally challenging content may disturb typical archival operations like processing, describing, digitizing, and providing access to a collection. Utilizing a feminist ethics of care, this paper interrogates the act of balancing King County Archives' mandate for open government records while attempting to be sensitive toward the victims, victims’ families, and other survivors of that period of public anxiety, researchers of myriad intentions, as well as the collection's stewards. This article examines ways that the Archives has failed some of these stakeholders in attempting to protect others, including staff, and asks how to remedy this failure with iterative processing, description, and other work with the collection.

Pre-print first published online 12/14/2021

Author Biography

Amanda Demeter, Tacoma Community College

Amanda Demeter is currently the archivist for Tacoma Community College in Washington state. Previously she has worked in various archives along the west coast from Santa Barbara, California to Nome, Alaska. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MLIS from the University of Washington.