From 1997 to 2009 Eric was Professor of Archivistics in the Department of Mediastudies (Archive and Information Studies) of the University of Amsterdam. As an honorary fellow of the department he continues his research which is concerned mainly with the social and cultural contexts of records creation and use.
Educated as a lawyer and legal historian, he received his LLM (1967) and LLD (cum laude) degrees from Leiden University. His previous functions were Assistant Lecturer of Legal History at Leiden University, Secretary of the Archives Council, Director of the Dutch State School of Archivists, and Assistant to the General State Archivist.
In 1980 he was appointed Deputy General State Archivist. Four years later he moved to Groningen to become State Archivist of that province. He was General State Archivist (National Archivist) of The Netherlands from 1989-1997. From 1997-2001 he was part-time Inspector General of the State Archives Service of the Netherlands and subsequently General Counsel to the National Archivist.
Eric Ketelaar was 1992-2002 part-time Professor of Archivistics in the Department of History of the University of Leiden. From September 2000 through April 2001 he stayed in Ann Arbor (USA) as The Netherlands Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (School of Information). He was visiting professor at Gakushuin University (Tokyo) and the University of Toronto. From 2003 to 2008 he was Honorary Professor and from 2009 to 2018 Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, Melbourne (Faculty of Information Technology).
He has served the Royal Society of Dutch Archivists as Vice President, and President, and was Chairman of the Steering Committee on Automation. In 1987 the Society awarded him with the first Hendrik van Wijn medal for his work as editor of the series of thirteen guides to the archival repositories in the Netherlands. He is an honorary member of the Society since 2009.
He was Secretary for Standardization of the International Council on Archives from 1980-1984. The following eight years he was Secretary of the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives. From 1996-2000 he was Chairman of the Program Management Commission of the International Council on Archives, Vice-President and (1998-2000) Acting President of ICA. In September 2000 he was appointed Honorary President of ICA.
He has been a member of the European Commission on Preservation and Access 1994-2000. He was president of the Records Management Convention of The Netherlands. He was a director of the DLM Forum 2010-2013, a member of the advisory board of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure and one of the experts on “The Status and Future of Canada’s Libraries and Archives” established by the Royal Society of Canada.
Eric is member of a number of professional organizations: the Royal Society of Dutch Archivists, Verband deutscher Archivarinnen und Archivare, and the Society of American Archivists. He is an elected member of the Society of Dutch Literature (Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde) and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen). In 1987 the French Government awarded him the order of Chevalier de l’Ordre d’Arts et des Lettres. In 2003 H.M. Queen Beatrix nominated him an Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau.
His key-note address Exploitation of new archival materials at the 1984 International Congress on Archives was translated into six languages. He has presented papers at conferences and seminars in several countries, including lecture tours in Australia and South Africa, and on a wide range of subjects: archival training, legislation, professional ethics, standards, access, appraisal, electronic records.
He wrote the UNESCO guidelines of archives and records management legislation. As a UNESCO consultant he worked in Indonesia to establish an archives school in Jakarta. He conducted seminars on archival legislation, appraisal and archival management in Central Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
He wrote some 400 articles in Dutch, English, French and German (some of which were translated into other languages) and he wrote or co-authored several books, including two general introductions on archival research and a handbook on Dutch archives and records management law. From 1986 to 2012 he was editor of a multi-author loose-leaf handbook on archives and records management methodology and practice (now about 2000 pages). In 1997 The Archival Image, a collection of his essays in English, French and German, was published. From the foundation, in 2001, of ‘Archival Science. International Journal on Recorded Information‘, he was one of the editors-in-chief. Since 2014 he is a member of the Editorial Board.