One of the wonderful things about archival records is that they can “give voice” to people from the past: a civil rights activist from Alabama, a farm wife from Kansas, a Chicano politician from Texas, a World War I pilot, a factory worker from Detroit, a fly fisherman from Montana, a schoolchild in Alaska. What amazing voices exist in your archives?
This month we hope you’ll share some examples of individuals from the past who have a unique, surprising, or very compelling story to tell. They need not be “famous.” In fact, we hope you will tap into the diversity of voices and experiences that our records represent — the people who might normally go unheard but who have compelling stories that we can share.
Please take time in March to share with us at least one “voice” from your archival collections. Keep it simple and concise. In just a paragraph (or two), tell us the highlights of the individual’s life or role and indicate why you think his/her voice is important. You may want to include a quotation or photo if it helps to tell the story. Here’s the website link:
After you’ve submitted the story through the SAA website, think about how you can share this person’s life with others — maybe via a Facebook or blog post to your users, tweeting quotations from a diary, engaging a journalist to do an article in your local newspaper. Find a way yourself to give voice to the incredible people in your archival “neighborhood”!
In response to several member requests for SAA to consider commenting on the recent incident relating to the release of records at the University at Oregon, I sought advice from several groups, the Council discussed options, and we reached agreement on a response. For background on the issue and the Council’s response see http://www2.archivists.org/news/2015/saa-response-to-member-request-re-university-of-oregon-records-release-incident
I’m gratified to hear from members when they think that SAA should make a statement or respond to a current situation, as well as their thoughts on what we do or don’t “say.” Each situation that emerges poses challenges when a response is requested on behalf of SAA rather than by individuals. In the two most recent cases—the acquisition by the University of Texas at Austin of the García Márquez papers and the University of Oregon records release incident—there has been considerable traffic via email, twitter, and Facebook. Members and other archival colleagues have written that “SAA ought to do something.” Continue reading
It’s time for the fifth challenge as part of “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives!”
We recently heard from many of you about why you’re an archivist and what you love about archives. The results were inspiring. You get it, you know what we do matters, as evidence by literally hundreds of statements, many very heartfelt and compelling. Words and phrases emerged like “making people more compassionate and self-aware”, “fighting for the continued existence and better sharing of stories”, facilitating relationships across time”, “solving mysteries”, “memory, accountability, identity and culture”, “supporting democracy, knowledge and innovation”, “defending the rights of people.” Many, many more words and statements were offered that demonstrate how many of us are truly dedicated to and passionate about our profession. Continue reading
Here is a great example of the important undertakings by regional organizations, and I hope will encourage others to also share significant initiatives in their regions through this blog.
The following post is from Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator (2015-2017) New England Archivists
As New England Archivists’ inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator, I have been asked to write a few words on how New England Archivists (NEA) reached this point in the process of becoming a fully representative and welcoming professional organization, and sketch out some big-picture ideas regarding what I hope to accomplish during my three-year term.
In the NEA’s 2010 Strategic Plan, NEA formally recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion for our viability as a professional organization seeking to represent and support all of New England’s archivists. To act upon this commitment, NEA established a two-year Diversity Task Force to examine the issue. This task force of six worked with NEA leadership between 2011-2013 to explore the history of diversity efforts within NEA, to engage in conversations around diversity with the membership, and ultimately to recommend some next steps.
In their final report to the Board in June 2013, the task force made a number of recommendations, among them to “institutionalize NEA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by creating a permanent body devoted to assessing and promoting the organization’s progress in this area.” It is this recommendation that led to the creation of the Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator position on the Board.
In December, several members requested that SAA Council consider issuing a García Márquez statement regarding the UT decision to not disclose the purchase price for the García Márquez archive. After seeking advice from the Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct, the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy, and pursuing a sometimes challenging discussion, Council arrived at the response posted on the SAA website today. http://www2.archivists.org/news/2015/saa-response-to-member-request-re-university-of-texas-acquisition-of-marquez-archive Continue reading
The fourth challenge in the “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” brings the focus to each of you: Why are you an archivist?
In past months, the calls to action for the “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” have focused on the value that others find in archives. Now it’s time to talk about the value WE see in what we do. Whether you came into this profession intentionally, by way of a related profession, or by some unforeseen path, there’s a reason why you’ve decided to stay or to pursue a degree. Please take a few minutes (now!) to think about why you’re an archivist–and share that with us. http://www2.archivists.org/living-dangerously/why-i-am-an-archivist
I firmly believe in not asking people to do something I would not be willing to do myself, so let me start this conversation by telling you why I am an archivist. Mine is just one perspective, one answer for one person. I look forward to hearing your stories. Continue reading
Reflection is part of the holiday season for many. It’s a time to think about life, family, friends, community. So first, let me thank all of you for the gift of a year to spend working with you and serving our profession in ways both planned and unexpected. Thanks also for the ideas, thoughts, concerns, frustrations, plans and aspirations shared by many of you. Connecting “live” is a great gift for me—social media is great, but a real voice has timbre and tone that is hard to replace. However you have communicated, though, I appreciate the gift of your voice. I hope you will continue and others will join the conversation in the coming calendar year. Continue reading
The story of Detroit’s bankruptcy and the accompanying challenges has been in the news regularly for some time. My French-Canadian ancestors came across “détroit” (the straits) in the 1790s and generations of my family have been proud to call that city home—and when asked where I’m from, I still claim Detroit. I was fortunate to pursue my archival education at Wayne State University in the archival studies program led by Dr. Philip P. Mason. One of the great gifts for students at Wayne is the nearness of the Detroit Institute of Art, where we often would head on weekends or between classes to wander through the galleries. So I regularly read the articles about the bankruptcy, which included discussions of potentially selling off some or all of the astonishing collections of the DIA. Continue reading
As we approach the holiday season – replete with wishes of good cheer and year-end toasts, let’s take an opportunity to share the thoughts we all encounter that remind us of the value of archives.
Why do archives matter? This month’s challenge is simple: Think about the “quotable” statements you’ve heard or read – perhaps in a professional presentation, an archives class or workshop, a newspaper, magazine, or journal article, a novel or play. The statement may have been made by someone with international recognition, a local “everyday” person, one of your professors, or a friend. Whatever she or he wrote or said, it made you think, “Yes, that’s why archives are important, that’s why what I do matters….” Continue reading