Archival Leaders Advocate: Annual Seminar at the Center for Jewish History
The Center for Jewish History's annual event, Archival Leaders Advocate, features prominent figures in the archives field addressing issues of broad relevance to all archivists.
June 2, 2016
"Imagining Archives Against Annihilation: Two Acts and A Proposition"
featuring Michelle Caswell
Co-sponsored by the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York.
In the 1970s, feminist communication scholars first proposed the term “symbolic annihilation” to describe the ways in which women are absent, underrepresented, or misrepresented in mainstream media. Taking this concept as a starting point, the first act of this talk will examine the ways in which mainstream archival practice has symbolically annihilated communities of color and LGBTQ communities through absence, underrepresentation, and misrepresentation. In the face of such symbolic annihilation, marginalized communities have formed their own independent community-based archives that empower them to establish, enact, and reflect on their presence in ways that are complex, meaningful, and substantive. Based on interviews with dozens of community archives founders, staff, and users, this first act will propose a tripartite structure for assessing the impact of such archives on the individuals and communities they serve: ontological impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “I am here”); epistemological impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “we were here”); and social impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “we belong here”). In the second act, this talk will examine the relationship between symbolic and actual annihilation. Symbolic annihilation both precedes and succeeds actual annihilation in that communities are rendered nonexistent, invisible, or expendable before they are subject to violence, and then, after violence, such acts are often rendered invisible or expunged from the record, magnifying and mimicking the violence itself. Finally, this talk will end with a proposition for archivists to “imagine otherwise,” that is, to conceive of and build a world in which communities that have historically been and are currently being marginalized due to white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, gender binaries, colonialism, and ableism are fully empowered to represent their past, construct their present, and envision their futures as forms of liberation.
Michelle Caswell, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Her work examines the ways in which traces of the past are used to build more just futures, with an emphasis on independent community-based archives. She is the author of the book Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), as well as more than two dozen articles. In 2014, she edited a special double issue of Archival Science on archives and human rights and is currently co-guest editing a special issue of The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies on critical archival studies. She holds a BA from Columbia University, a master’s in theological studies focusing on South Asian religions from Harvard University, an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a PhD in LIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also the co-founder of the South Asian American Digital Archive (http://www.saada.org), an online repository that documents and provides access to the diverse stories of South Asian Americans.
February 4, 2015
featuring Kathleen D. Roe
Co-sponsored by the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York.
Archives are the substance of the past, the individual and collective voice, the evidence of action and events, the thread and fabric of our society. Yet archives often occupy a hallowed but hazy role in our communities, universities and schools, places of business, and government. There are pressing issues the archival community must address effectively both to ensure the availability and use of the historical record as well as to ensure that key stakeholders and the public recognize the importance and value of archives. Those issues include: ensuring that a comprehensive archival record survives; concerns over “competition” for prestigious collections; issues regarding freedom of information laws and efforts to restrict access to information; and the need for informed stakeholders and the general public to value and appropriately support the functions of archives. This talk will focus on these “matters” of concern to the archival community, and the need for archivists to promote a strong understanding of why “archives matter”.
Kathleen D. Roe is the current president of the Society of American Archivists, the oldest and largest national archival professional association in North America with over 6200 members. In that capacity, she has challenged archivists to spend a “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” by getting out of their comfort zone to focus on raising awareness of and advocating for archives. She has also served as president of the Council of State Archivists, the national association for state archives, and on various committees for SAA and regional archival associations. She has published and taught extensively in the areas of archival descriptive practices and advocating for archival programs. She is the director of archives and records management operations for the New York State Archives where she oversees programs providing services to state and local governments and non-profit historical records programs around the state.
September 12, 2013
"The Role of Archives in Supporting Changing Research Practices"
featuring Jefferson Bailey, David Ludden, Melanie Meyers, Roger Schonfeld and Kate Theimer
Co-sponsored by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York.
Ithaka S+R's recent report, "Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians,” offers an insightful examination of how, as the executive summary states, "underlying research methods of many historians remain fairly recognizable... but the day to day research practices of all historians have changed fundamentally." The report includes a broad examination of the crucial role of archives and libraries in providing access to historical materials and details how changing methods of research and expectations of access among researchers are creating new challenges and opportunities for the archivists and librarians supporting historical research. The report also features a number of specific recommendations for libraries and archives as they continue to provide access to materials in an era of new record types, access technologies, and research practices.
This panel discussed the report's findings from the specific perspective of its implications for archives and as a jumping off point for discussing reference and access services in light of increasingly digitized and born-digital collections. Panelists included Roger Schonfeld, a co-author of the report and Program Director for Libraries, Users, and Scholarly Practices at Ithaka S+R; Kate Theimer, a writer and blogger on archives at ArchivesNext; David Ludden, an interview participant in the Ithaka report and Professor of History at New York University; and Melanie Meyers, Senior Reference Services Librarian for Special Collections at the Center for Jewish History. Jefferson Bailey, Strategic Initiatives Manager at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, moderated.
For a summary of the key discussion points and questions raised during the event, please see "The Role of Archives in Supporting Changing Research Practices: A Panel Discussion" in the Winter 2014 issue of the Metropolitan Archivist, p. 14.
November 13, 2012
"Digital Archives and Society"
featuring Jackie Dooley
Download the presentation slides.
Jackie Dooley is Program Officer at OCLC Research, where she conducts research projects focused on special collections and archives in research libraries. She is serving as President of the Society of American Archivists for 2012/13.
She is also a member of the Special Collections Working Group of the U.S. Association of Research Libraries, which published a report on current issues in special collections and archives in 2009. She is principal author of Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives (OCLC Research, 2010). Jackie teaches the course “An introduction to archives for special collections librarians” at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School.
She was Head of Special Collections and Archives and University Archivist at the University of California at Irvine from 1995 to 2008. Earlier positions were at the Getty Research Institute, the University of California at San Diego, and the Library of Congress. She has long been active in both the Society of American Archivists and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research libraries. She has an M.L.S. from UCLA and a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine.
Jackie is a recognized authority on metadata and descriptive standards for rare and unique materials, having edited rules for rare book cataloging and developed genre and subject thesauri. She was a member of the research team that designed and implemented Encoded Archival Description. She is a frequent speaker in her areas of expertise and has published well-known articles on a variety of subjects, including technology for special collections, EAD, subject indexing, genre/form access, and archival authority control.
November 11, 2011
"Societal Trends and Archives Outreach: Constructing Roadmaps for Program Growth and Sustainability"
featuring V. Chapman-Smith
Download the presentation slides.
Special collections and archives, like other cultural institutions, are struggling today with audience and patron sustainability. Many institutions are experiencing drops in patron use and program attendance. Others face challenging financial situations, which have required reductions in staff and operating hours. Others feel they are barely holding their own. Can there be an upward spiral for archives? What strategies can archives employ to sustain relevance and grow increasingly vital over time? Through an examination of case studies and discussion, attendees learned about some tested effective strategies that leverage societal trends to build new audiences and community purposes for archives.
V. Chapman-Smith is the Regional Strategic Liaison in the Office of the Chief Operations Officer at the National Archives at Philadelphia, a position she was assigned in this past July under NARA’s Transformation Reorganization. Ms. Chapman-Smith has nearly 30 years of executive leadership in records administration, history public programming and organizational capacity building. During this time, she has earned a distinguished reputation for bringing fresh approaches and innovations to community engagement within the institutions she has led. Over the years, Ms. Chapman-Smith has received several leadership awards for her work, including the prestigious Public Service Award from Nelson Rockefeller College, the New York State Governor’s Award for Outstanding State Leadership from George Pataki, the City of Philadelphia’s Distinguished Service Award from Mayor Edward G. Rendell, and the History Channel’s 2008 Outstanding Educator Award for her galvanizing leadership that brought National History Day back to Philadelphia in 2005. In addition to working eleven years in the private sector as Corporate Records Officer of a large Philadelphia-based financial institution, she has led two of the largest records programs at the state and local levels in the United States and is the former Regional Administrator of NARA’s Mid Atlantic Region. Under her nine-year leadership, the Mid Atlantic Region was the recipient of eight Archivist Awards, the highest honor given internally by the United States Archivist, and Ms. Chapman-Smith was personally recognized for her outstanding work in promoting civic understanding in a diverse society. Recently, for NARA’s Transformation Launch, Chapman-Smith led the Values Team, which produced the organization’s core values.