Archivists on the Issues: Rare & Ephemeral: a snapshot of full-time New England archives jobs, 2018-2019

Archivists on the Issues is a forum for archivists to discuss the issues we are facing today. Today’s post comes from Genna Duplisea, the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at Salve Regina University. Genna would like to send special thanks to Caitlin Birch, Jaimie Fritz, and Olivia Mandica-Hart for reading and commenting on this piece, and to Suzy Morgan and everyone else who gave feedback during the initial data collection phase.

 

At the university where I currently work, there is a small but enthusiastic contingent of undergraduate students in the cultural and historic preservation and history majors interested in pursuing library school. As I am asked to give a picture of the archives profession to newly-declared majors every year, I think of the inadequate job market and question whether I am advising them well. This spring, feeling disheartened by what seemed like very few job postings and a rash of term positions, I found myself wondering if the data supported my perception that there weren’t enough opportunities for all the archivists in the region.

Methodology

I compiled information on full-time archives positions in the six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) posted between April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019. My sources were the Simmons University Jobline (http://blogs.simmons.edu/slis/jobline/), ArchivesGig (https://archivesgig.com/), and the New England Archivists and Society of American Archivists listservs.

Compiling this data required making decisions about what constituted an archives job. I included any position shared through archivist professional venues, even if it was unclear whether most archival training would be appropriate to the position. I included museum positions that related to collections care, digital collections, or other skill sets that overlap with archives training (but not positions unrelated to archives work, such as development). I included corporate positions as well as public, academic, government, or non-profit positions. A position needed to dedicate at least half of its time to archival work to be included. Temporary positions were included if those postings were full-time, as were positions that did not require a Master’s degree.

Because I began this project after many job postings had expired, some information is missing. In some cases I had to make assumptions about whether a salary grade was posted, after reviewing the institution’s general practices in job postings. (For example, I knew several larger institutions (such as Harvard and Yale Universities) always post salary grades; conversely, if a review of an institution’s current positions generally did not include salary information, then I assumed that there had not been any in the post I was researching.) Future research would be more effective if job posting information were to be downloaded and recorded as it is posted, so that original postings can serve as reference points and more information can be gathered before the removal of inactive positions from job boards.

This study is a snapshot of a year in the New England archives profession, allowing for some broad conclusions rather than a statistically significant analysis. Undoubtedly, I have still missed a few, but positions I hope to draw useful conclusions from the data. The full table is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YglMlu_SOIUXyknVzTvxiJSj_VC9v-Pb/view?usp=sharing.

The survey found 115 full-time archives jobs at institutions within the six New England states posted between April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019.

Salary information

Most of the job postings did not include any salary information at all, whether a flat number, a grade, or a range. Of the 115 total positions, posting information was insufficient in 30 of them and it was impossible to tell whether salary information had originally been present. Of the remaining 85 positions, 47 (55.3%) included salary information, and 38 (44.7%) did not.

If we exclude Harvard and Yale, the two largest employers in this survey, then the salary information becomes paltry — only 17 positions at other institutions included salary information. There was not enough information on salary amounts to conclude anything substantial.

Location

Of the 115 positions, 30 of them (26%) were at Harvard or Yale Universities, meaning that over a quarter of all archives jobs posted in New England last year were at one of those institutions. The state with the highest number of postings was Massachusetts with 73 (63.4%). Connecticut had 25 (21.7%) postings, and Rhode Island had nine (8%). Vermont and Maine each had three postings (2.6% each) for the entire year, and New Hampshire had two (1.7%).

Temporary & Contingent Positions

The permanency of 11 positions was unclear. Of the remaining 104 positions, 72 (69.2%) were permanent. The rest were temporary positions, with terms ranging from two months to five years but mostly appointments lasting less than two years.

The value of the MS or MSLIS

Of the 115 positions, it was unclear in 25 of them whether a Master’s degree was required. Of the remaining 90, 61 (67.7%) required a Master’s or higher (one position required a Ph. D). Twenty-nine positions (27.7%) did not require it, and of those, 12 positions did not require a Master’s but preferred it.

Archives grads

For context, I was interested in finding out how many new archivists there were every year. The only archives management degree in an ALA-accredited LIS program in the New England region is at Simmons University in Boston. The Simmons University Office of Institutional Research provided information regarding the number of graduates with the archives management concentration. This includes graduates who earned the concentration in-person or online, and also includes graduates who pursued the dual-Master’s MS/MA program in Archives Management and History. (I myself am a graduate of this program.) Of course, not all archivists have Master’s degrees; not all Simmons University graduates stay in the region; not all archives graduates seek jobs in the archives field; and not all archivists in New England went to Simmons. The University of Rhode Island also has a library school (though not an archives-focused degree), and there are several public history Master’s programs in the region; all of these, as well as online programs, also train area professionals who work in archives, but the number of archivist graduates would be more difficult to track. Still, Simmons’s data provides an idea of how many new archivists enter the job market in the region annually.

NE_graddata
Graph created by the author using data from the Simmons University Office of Institutional Research.

For the past ten years, the annual number of Simmons archives graduates has more than doubled, from 56 in 2008 to 121 in 2017. (The latest figure for archives degrees awarded in academic year 2018-2019 is 38, but this does not include the 2019 spring semester.) The increase has not been steady, with a drop between 2012 and 2014, but the program has consistently grown since then. The online program began awarding degrees in 2014, and represents a substantial minority of those degrees. All told, 872 professionals have graduated with archives degrees from Simmons in the past decade.

Discussion

It does not seem that the job market in New England is supporting the influx of new graduates, or emerging and seasoned professionals. The exponential annual increase of digital information alone means, in my view, that society needs more archivists. A separate but related conversation with current archivists would surely conclude that people in this profession are overworked and understaffed, with job responsibilities ranging from processing to digitization to records management to teaching to digital preservation.

The Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) has demonstrated concern for a dearth of salary information and low pay. SSA President Mark Lambert has published a series on the failure of national organizations and top archives directors are failing the profession (https://www.southwestarchivists.org/poor-pay-in-archives-how-top-archives-directors-and-our-national-organizations-are-failing-us/). Lack of transparency about archivist salaries allows institutions to avoid providing competitive compensation, and can generate huge wastes of time for candidates and hiring committees when applicants do not know whether a position will compensate them adequately. Last fall, SSA began collecting regional salary data (https://www.southwestarchivists.org/home/archives-regional-salary-research/). At its spring 2019 meeting, the Society of Southwest Archivists voted to stop posting or sharing job advertisements that did not include salary information (https://www.southwestarchivists.org/salary-information-now-required-in-job-postings/). As of this writing, a group of archivists is collecting information for a proposal to SAA Council to require the organization to require salaries in job postings (https://harvard.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_efCj42MurbrLAj3), and New England Archivists is considering a similar change. More regional and national organizations, not to mention library schools, could make similar statements and take action to support its communities of learners and professionals.

It has been a decade and a half since the Society of American Archivists conducted A*CENSUS (Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the United States), which revealed trends about the archival profession and archival education. The SAA annual meeting this year includes a task force on A*CENSUS II. Pre-planning for the survey will be complete by early 2020, with the Committee on Research, Data, and Assessment (CoRDA) implementing it thereafter. (https://www2.archivists.org/news/2018/saa-council-affirms-strategic-goals-creates-research-committee)

The frequency of temporary and project postings demonstrates how dependent the archives profession is on external or limited funding. It is alarming that nearly a third of the archives positions posted last year were term-limited. I focused on full-time positions because I wanted to get a grasp on the types of positions people graduating from archives programs ideally want — secure, full-time, in a relevant field. Yet even this set of supposedly ideal positions show that job insecurity prevails. Professional organizations have a role to play in supporting the creation of stable, benefited, appropriately-compensated positions for its members. New England Archivists supported a study on contingent employment, released in January 2017 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aFVWuA6zJsrTGFoPuKeU8K6SJ1Sggv2h/view). In response to the UCLA Special Collections Librarians open letter on contingent employment published in June 2018, NEA released a statement later that year (https://www.newenglandarchivists.org/Official-Statements/6814976).

A trend of precarious stewardship threatens archival collections, to say nothing of the impact on individuals struggling for economic stability. Eira Tansey’s recent May Day blog post pointed out that the best way to protect collections is to secure stable, ongoing support for staff (http://eiratansey.com/2018/05/01/mayday-on-may-day/). Yet the inadequate number of new positions, combined with the trends of salary secrecy and contingent positions, seem to demonstrate that archives are not valued as core functions necessitating ongoing operational funding within an organization. If the collections that archivists steward have enduring value to their institutions, then the staff should experience similar value and respect for their work.

 

 

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Legis* Research Post: A Look at Bipartisan Support for GLAM Funding

 

The Legis* Research Team monitors the intersection of archives issues and legislative resources and concerns, legislative bills, and individual legislators. This post, part of our Research Post series, was written by Laurel Bowen, University Archivist at Georgia State University. 

This year, for my work on the Legislative Research team, I looked at the activities of Michael Turner (R-OH), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and my own representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) in the 115th Congress (2017-2018).

From work on a previous Legislative Research Team I was familiar with Michael Turner as a successful advocate of legislation that promotes historic preservation, a field that often employs archivists. As mayor of Dayton, Turner stimulated economic development by rehabilitating housing in Dayton’s historic neighborhoods–and preserved that community’s history in the process. In Congress, Turner founded (2003) and became co-chair of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus. His legislative efforts resulted in the bipartisan Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act (2007), which provides “bricks and mortar” support to preserve historic buildings and grant funds for nationally significant collections and historic properties.

I was impressed not only by the bipartisan nature of the legislation but by the pragmatic feet-in-the-clay linking of hard headed economic development with history and culture. As archivists, we often appeal to the hearts and minds of potential funders, and we join with libraries, museums, and the history profession to make our case. Those who work in historic preservation and the park service can point to the “real world” benefits of economic redevelopment and increased tourism to entice public funding. If the archives profession joined forces with historic preservation and national park service professionals (who frequently include an archives component in their projects), we might all see better funding in an often discouraging political environment.

If a Republican from a city can be a supporter of historic preservation, I wondered if more ideologically liberal representatives from cities would be even more ready to support funding for historic preservation and, by extension, archives. I chose Joe Crowley (New York City) and Hank Johnson (Atlanta) to find out.

Amid the current administration’s proposal (for another budget year) to eliminate NEH, NHPRC, IMLS, NEA, and Save America’s Treasures, and cut other historical and cultural funding sources, the lobbying group Preservation Action worked with Turner’s Historic Preservation Caucus (HPC) to advocate for the Historic Preservation Fund.

Crowley, it turns out, is a member of that group, as are Georgia Democrats John Lewis and David Scott. In March 2018 the HPC circulated a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies that called funding for the Historic Preservation Fund “an economic and historical imperative.” Crowley and Lewis were early signers. Included in the funding were continued grants to a “Civil Rights initiative that preserves, documents, and interprets the sites and stories” of that movement. Scott and Hank Johnson also signed. With continued lobbying this July, the House of Representatives passed the FY 19 Interior Appropriations Bill, with amendments that increased funding for the Historic Preservation Fund to $101.41 million.

Looking further, I discovered that Crowley is a member of the Congressional History Caucus, a group that works with the National Coalition for History. The Society of American Archivists is a member of the Coalition. Johnson’s legislative website shows he has helped provide NEH grants for libraries, scholarships for young artists, and a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund for renovating the historic West Hunter Street Church.

While it’s hard to judge what ideological bent might be more likely to predispose a legislator to support historic preservation, parks, museums, libraries, archives, and history, it seems clear that support can be bipartisan if presented in a way that engages a representative’s interests.

But then there may also be unanticipated events.  I remember seeing the news. But the names didn’t register.  Joe Crowley—fourth ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, chair of the Democratic caucus, member of the Congressional History Caucus and the Historic Preservation Caucus, was defeated in his district’s primary election by a “28-year-old Latina activist running her first campaign.”

Post revised 2018 August 21. 

News Highlights: 2018 June

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories relating to archives, archivists, archival issues, and archival representations. This list was curated by SAA Issues & Advocacy News Monitoring Team, which includes Dana Bronson, Rachel Cohen, Samantha Cross, Shaun Hayes, and Beth Nevarez; it is managed by Steve Duckworth. More links and information are available in this month’s Google doc.

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

Archival Finds & Stories

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

Exhibits & Museums

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

News Monitoring Team: Indian Schools and Historical Othering

The News Monitoring Research Team works on archives and archivists issues in the news. This post, part of our Research Post series, was written by Steering Committee member and team coordinator Steve Duckworth.

For our last official News Monitoring Team post of the season, I thought I would step out of my role as the Coordinator of the News Team and talk a bit about something from a story that popped up last month. The article, turned up by one of the News Team members, focuses on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an “Indian” boarding school in Carlisle, PA that operated from 1879 to 1918.

This struck a chord with me as issues around America’s indigenous peoples and archives and cultural artifacts have been on my mind frequently in my career, ever since my first full-time position with the National Park Service in Alaska and lasting through to today as I work in the Pacific Northwest and hear about projects and programs around the historical mistreatment of these communities (not to mention the similar information coming from Canada). But I had also just read Kate Theimer’s recent post on the Carlisle Indian School and the text of her talk, “Archiving Against the Apocalypse,” for the Canadian-American Archives Conference. I also spent a good chunk of my life living in Philadelphia and Allentown, PA, so a confluence of things held this story in my mind.

While curating an exhibit on public health in the early 20th century last year, I stumbled upon the theory of eugenics, which I’ll admit I hadn’t really ever heard of (and I’ve spent a lot of my life in school). Turns out the U.S., during the later parts of the 1800s and early parts of the 1900s, was really into the idea of creating a purer race of people. Sound familiar? Yeah, American eugenics actually inspired Hitler and that whole Nazi race-purifying thing. Doctors, government workers, and regular Joes alike were all into the idea of weeding out “defective” and “undesirable” traits through controlling who got to reproduce through court-ordered sterilization and segregation, and with “child guidance” clinics that remind me of more recent gay conversion institutions. This didn’t end all that long ago; Oregon’s eugenics board lasted until 1983, having carried out its last sterilization in 1981.

Indian schools were a slightly earlier version of population control. White, European-Americans of the 1800s wanted to assimilate indigenous people into their culture. They thought if they removed youths from their families, language, culture, and traditions, and trained and educated them in European style, they could eventually breed out the “savage” aspects of their people. It was a way of exterminating the indigenous people of their new country that was considered more civil and socially acceptable than all out murder or war. Though, as you can see from recent reports, beatings, illness, and death were all common outcomes for these students.

The Carlisle school was America’s first, off-reservation boarding school, but it wasn’t the last. Twenty six boarding schools were established across the country, along with hundreds of private religious schools. Over 10,000 children attended the Carlisle school alone, with estimates of over 100,000 children total throughout the system. Canada’s similar system, the Residential Schools, lasted into the 1970s and had over 150,000 “students.” (Canada’s system was also more heavily documented and the government has been a lot more public about speaking out about it, most likely due to the unprecedented class-action lawsuit survivors brought against the government.)

So, first eugenics got stuck in my mind, and now I keep learning about more and more ways in which atrocious acts have been committed, for this reason or that (have you listened to the Seeing White podcast series?), which all really boil down to othering certain groups to keep the white people on top – assimilation, cleansing, separation, racial purity, etc. And I think, damn, we humans are really horrible (this, itself, is not really a revelation for me, but more of an expansion).

But humans can also manage to do some good here and there. So, and here I relate it back to archives, it’s painful to learn of this history, but it’s refreshing (in a way) to read stories of how archival records and cultural history are being used to return remains, artifacts, memory, and culture to people who have been wronged by our country (and others) – and perhaps even provide some healing to the wronged. These acts of restitution provide some concrete examples that can be used to influence archival ethics and practices today and perhaps encourage people to look up and out from their lives and small worlds, to see far afield and take in the big picture of all of us on this planet and what we’re doing to each other.

My goal here isn’t so much to bring about change through this short post, but more to add another voice to the education on happenings such as this and to help make connections between what we do in our daily work that could potentially have a huge benefit. Also I want to urge people with these types of historical records (or even more contemporary records), to not hide from the past. Face it and work to better the future.

 

Resources and additional information

Listed chronologically, starting with the most recent

 

News Highlights: 2018 May

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories relating to archives, archivists, archival issues, and archival representations. This list was curated by SAA Issues & Advocacy News Monitoring Team, which includes Dana Bronson, Rachel Cohen, Samantha Cross, Shaun Hayes, and Beth Nevarez; it is managed by Steve Duckworth. More links and information are available in this month’s Google doc.

 

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

Archival Finds & Stories

Exhibits & Museums

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

Security & Privacy

The Profession

News Highlights, 2018 April

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories relating to archives, archivists, archival issues, and archival representations. This list was curated by SAA Issues & Advocacy News Monitoring Team, which includes Dana Bronson, Rachel Cohen, Samantha Cross, Shaun Hayes, and Beth Nevarez; it is managed by Steve Duckworth. More links and information are available in this month’s Google doc.

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

Archival Finds & Stories

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

Exhibits & Museums

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

Security & Privacy

Legis* Research Team: Updates Regarding Legislation and Legislator Actions

The Legis* Research Team monitors the intersection of archives issues and legislative resources and concerns, legislative bills, and individual legislators. This post, part of our Research Post series, was written by Katharina Hering, Mark Prindiville, Ashley Levine, and Lindsay Hiltunen.

In the past several months, I have focused on monitoring opposition against the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) “Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative” (VLVI), formerly called the “Extreme Vetting Initiative” (EVI) in and outside of Congress. On April 5, 2018, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging her to halt the VLVI. “The Trump Administration’s extreme vetting initiative must be stopped.  Not only will it be ineffective and inaccurate, but will certainly be discriminatory and unjustly target certain communities. ICE’s intention to build a program with unknown limits to search social media platforms demonstrates a disregard for privacy, due process, and the rights to free speech and free association. This initiative will undoubtedly chill free speech online.” In March 2018, citing concerns raised by the Brennan Center for Justice and other civil liberties and civil rights organizations about the Extreme Vetting Initiative, the Congressional Black Caucus, via letter, requested that DHS suspends all activities related to the VLVI.

Among the groups opposing the VLVI were the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) and the Concerned Archivists Alliance.

Several civil rights, civil liberties and privacy rights organizations provide regular updates on the opposition against the VLVI, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, National Immigration Law Center, Georgetown’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and the Brennan Center for Justice, among others.

— Katharina Hering

Senator Gary Peters of Michigan voted in favor of banking deregulation on March 6, 2018, as well as his fellow Michigander, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and 14 other Democratic Senators. Coincidentally, both Peters and Stabenow have history with banking lobbyists, as campaign and leadership PAC donations from securities and investments have been found via OpenSecrets.org. Peters has received $726,879, while Stabenow has obtained $587,939, ironically including corporate/PAC donations into the realm of the gender wage gap issue.
— Mark Prindiville

In following the activities of the TV, radio, and internet news program, Democracy Now!, the legislator, Tom Cotton (R-AR), and the legislation, H.R. 3923:  Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Adams Smith, D-WA), failures of government accountability in documenting abuse of undocumented persons by government agencies (e.g. U.S. Immigrations Customs Enforcement, a.k.a. ICE) amid simultaneous efforts to bolster aggressive immigration enforcement policies, are increasingly apparent.

The Democracy Now! website dedicates a section entirely to reporting on immigration issues in the United States. Articles bearing headlines like, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement to Allow Jailing of Pregnant Women,” to, “Immigration Activists Fight to End ICE Arrests at Courthouses,” and, “17 States Sue Trump Administration over Census Citizenship Question,” highlight the current administration’s efforts to crackdown on immigration from non-European (i.e. non-white) nations, and terrorize undocumented people within the U.S. These reports underscore concrete steps taken by ICE to simultaneously increase surveillance of immigrant communities (through data gathering mechanisms, such as the “Visa Lifecycle Vetting” initiative), and double-down on aggressive detainment activities (raids on courthouses, communities, and sanctuary cities). ICE activities are shrouded in secrecy, while ICE leadership neglects to adequately explain its extralegal actions.

Tom Cotton’s legislative activities mirror those of the administration in which he serves. For example, last year Senator Cotton sponsored S. 354: RAISE Act, which aims to limit illegal immigration by significantly reducing several provisions of U.S. policy that encourage legal immigration. S. 354 would end the Diversity Visa Program, a State Department initiative that grants an additional 50,000 legal permanent resident visas each year from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. This bill also aims to reduce the number of family-sponsored immigrants, as well as cap number of refugees around the world offered U.S. permanent residency to 50,000. Tom Cotton also sponsored S. 1720: RAISE Act, a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a skills-based immigration points system.

Meanwhile, since its introduction in October 2017, H.R. 3923:  Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017, has seen no action made in the House. This bill aims to provide standards for facilities where undocumented persons in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (ICE) are detained. Since ICE’s inception in 2003, and up to 2015, 150 individuals died in the agency’s custody. Furthermore, the immigration detainee watchdog group, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), highlighted 14,693 reported incidents of sexual and physical abuse in ICE detention centers from 2010 to 2016, with just about 1 percent of these reports actually resulting in investigations. ICE has even reversed its policy of not detaining pregnant women, as reports of multiple confirmed miscarriages and  inadequate medical care in ICE detention facilities have come to light. This new policy follows President Trump’s Muslim Ban, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” from January 2017, which has led to increased interior enforcement across the country.

— Ashley Levine

The most active monitoring I have been doing lately stems from the National Coalition for History. An active advocate for many important policy issues that impact archives, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions, the National Coalition for History has been doing a lot of work to keep the issue of Humanities funding in the forefront. Member organizations represent thousands of historians, genealogists, archivists, teachers, students, and other stakeholders, so they are keeping current on issues that impact those professions and the communities served. Active social media campaigns have been highlighting some of these efforts, as well as collaboration with other non-profit educational organizations to encourage face-to-face and other modes of history-related advocacy. Current goals and accomplishments that impact the archives profession include working to prevent the elimination of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an important source of funding for archives across the country, and leading the effort to pass the Presidential & Federal Records Reform Act. The National History Coalition has an active social media presence, so be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter, or historycoalition.org, to get a sense of current advocacy work and major accomplishments.

— Lindsay Hiltunen

Research Post: Gaps in the Collections

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team stays abreast of news related to archives and archivists, and helps us stay updated. This post, part of our Research Post series, was written by News Monitoring Team member Rachel Cohen. 

 

History is told by the victors. For too long, the evidence of that history has been missing minority voices. On the heels of the #MeToo movement and the Charlottesville protest, society has been looking inwards towards racist and sexist gaps. Archivists are recognizing that our collections are frequently reflecting the identity of their stewards, a group largely composed of white individuals.

The collective idea of history as an elevated, almost posh concept for the elite is waning. The past is becoming more accessible to the everyday person in ordinary places outside of the occasionally intimidating archive or expensive museum.

In Chicago, black women well known by textbooks and never recognized, now have a guidebook documenting their legacies through geographic locations. An article in the Chicago Tribune interviews authors Mariame Kaba and Essence McDowell on their documentation of the South Side of Chicago’s African American women. Forty women during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from pilot Bessie Coleman to the abolitionist Fannie Hagen Emanuel, are highlighted on maps throughout the city for their accomplishments. The authors were not paid for their work and published the book on top of their full time jobs. “People haven’t taken the time to really know black women, in our fullness as three-dimensional human beings,” Kaba explained. “I want people to think about what these women did, the stories they told, the music they made, the institutions they built and how it’s connected to black women’s lives today.”

The New York Times tried to correct the historical record by writing obituaries for overlooked women throughout the paper’s history. They solicited nominations and received submissions from readers that included famous women and their own deceased relatives. Accessible at “Overlooked,” the reporters are collating obituaries dating back to 1851.

Since 1888, National Geographic has been informing its readership about foreign lands, exotic animals, and racist coverage of minorities. As reported in “‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past,” the magazine scoured its archive in anticipation of an edition solely devoted to race. The textual references, photographs, and choice of subjects in the magazine’s coverage upheld a tradition of racism that influenced generations of readers. Glossing over the ugly parts of history that don’t show people in the best light is wrong. The photographs in the magazine up until the 1970’s fetishized the “otherness” of certain groups in order to make them seem subhuman in comparison to Western, white culture. Women were often shown topless and images were framed in stereotypical manners without giving voice to the subjects. The so-called exotic practices of the people were emphasized in order to not report on the negative parts of their lives, like war or hunger. The magazine is increasing its list of diverse voices in response to their report.

Contemporary interpretations of history have had the tendency to try erase the struggles of people, to the point of war and death, for a better world. Confederate statues, largely put up in the twentieth century, ignited a nation-wide debate this year with how the present day culture deals with the notion of slavery and racism generations later. The last slaves have died, as have their children. How should we place the rampant practice of slavery in the present day interpretations of history?

A new historical marker in Memphis shows how history can include recognizing the negative aspects of the past. This prime example comes from the Jefferson Davies Highway, which still has remnants you can drive on throughout the Southern states. Memphis and the National Park Services expanded a 1955 sign honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest to include his participation in the antebellum slave trade. Prior to the additional words on the marker, the fifty-five words on Forrest only said that “business enterprises made him wealthy.” It is now the only sign in Memphis that connects the city to slave trading. Forrest was only one of several slave traders on Adams Street, where the sign is located, who bought and sold kidnapped African slaves despite the 1808 congressional ban on slave importation.

Revealing these hidden histories will take time and introspection by those in power, but the articles of this past month have shown some steps towards a more inclusive reading of the past. As archivists, we are in a unique position to fill in gaps in our collections that marginalize groups.

News Highlights, 2018 March

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories relating to archives, archivists, archival issues, and archival representations. This list was curated by SAA Issues & Advocacy News Monitoring Team, which includes Dana Bronson, Rachel Cohen, Samantha Cross, Shaun Hayes, and Beth Nevarez; it is managed by Steve Duckworth.

View the full list of news stories online.

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

Archival Finds & Stories

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

Exhibits & Museums

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

Security & Privacy

The Profession

News Highlights 2018 February

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories regarding topics of relevance to archives and archivists. This list was curated by SAA Issues & Advocacy News Monitoring Team, which includes Dana Bronson, Rachel Cohen, Samantha Cross, Shaun Hayes, Ryan Leimkuehler, Beth Nevarez, and Chloé Pascual; it is managed by Steve Duckworth.

View the full list of news stories online.

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

  1. Sir Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking papers to become UNESCO heritage, https://www.zmescience.com/science/physics/isaac-newton-unesco-heritage-01122017/
  2. Trump Officials Want to Charge More Money to Access Public Records—Despite Fewer Requests, https://gizmodo.com/trump-officials-want-to-charge-more-money-to-access-pub-1822974323
  3. UC Berkeley Uses Optical Scanning to Recover Indigenous Voices from Wax Cylinders, https://hyperallergic.com/397995/wax-cylinder-optical-scanning-uc-berkeley/

Archival Finds & Stories

  1. George Washington’s hair found inside New York library book, https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2018/02/15/George-Washingtons-hair-found-inside-New-York-library-book/4491518717744/
  2. In Switzerland, dismay as papers on secret Cold War army vanish, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-paramilitary/in-switzerland-dismay-as-papers-on-secret-cold-war-army-vanish-idUSKBN1FR1OQ
  3. Oldest ‘tattoo art’ discovered on Ancient Egyptian mummies, https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/02/health/egyptian-mummy-tattoos-duplicate-2/index.html

Climate & Emergency Preparedness

  1. Vermont Agency Denies Environmentalists Access to Runoff Rules Draft, https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2018/02/13/vermont-agency-denies-environmentalists-access-to-runoff-rules-draft

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

  1. How Google Has Quietly Revolutionized Document Editing, https://slate.com/technology/2018/02/google-docs-have-quietly-revolutionized-document-editing.html

Exhibits & Museums

  1. ‘Access+Ability’ exhibit showcases designs for, and by, those with disabilities, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/21/health/disability-design-cooper-hewitt-new-york/index.html
  2. ‘Blank Panther’ raises difficult questions in museum community, http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/bs-fe-black-panther-museums-20180227-story.html

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

  1. 10 lesser-known Black History Month sites across America, https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/black-history-month-sites-america/index.html
  2. One Syrian’s brave moment, https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2018/02/03/one-syrians-brave-moment.cnn
  3. Polish minister backs call for ‘Polocaust’ museum, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/21/europe/poland-minister-backs-polocaust-museum-intl/index.html
  4. Rewriting Canada’s Memory Banks: Archivists ‘Decolonize’ Collections, http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/rewriting-canadas-memory-banks-archivists-decolonize-collections

Security & Privacy

  1. Lost and found: Incredible works discovered, https://www.cnn.com/style/gallery/lost-and-found-art-gallery/index.html
  2. Stolen work by famed painter Degas found in bus, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/23/world/stolen-degas-painting-found-bus-intl/index.html
  3. Man Accused of Breaking Off Terra-Cotta Warrior’s Thumb for Souvenir, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-rohana-terra-cotta-warrior-thumb_us_5a8b2fd9e4b0117adf70ea06