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

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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

News Highlights, 2018 January

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories regarding topics of relevance to archives and archivists. View the full list of news stories online.

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

  1. “Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Thought War on Terror Would Be Easily Won” (FOIA and the National Security Archive)
    https://www.npr.org/2018/01/30/581930133/former-defense-secretary-rumsfeld-thought-war-on-terror-would-be-easily-won

  2. “Inside the Battle for Arthur Miller’s Archive”
  3. “White House intends to destroy data from voter fraud commission”
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/voter-fraud-commission-data/index.html

  4. “How a Library Handles a Rare and Deadly Book of Wallpaper Samples”
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/shadows-from-the-walls-of-death-book

Archival Finds & Stories

  1. “They spoke out against immigrants. So she unearthed their own immigrant ancestors”
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/24/us/immigration-resistance-genealogy-jennifer-mendelsohn-trnd/index.html

  2. “The Forgotten History of Black Women Protesting Sexual Assault”
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-forgotten-history-of-black-women-protesting-sexual_us_5a4e29dee4b0d86c803c7c42

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

  1. “Saving Gawker and Alt-Weeklies from Deletion.”
  2. “Google App Goes Viral Making an Art Out of Matching Faces to Paintings”
    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/15/578151195/google-app-goes-viral-making-an-art-out-of-matching-faces-to-paintings

Exhibits & Museums

  1. “A Diary from a Gulag Meets Evil with Lightness”
  2. “Haslla Art World: Part museum, part hotel”
    https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2018/01/31/haslla-art-world-gangwon-south-korea.cnn

  3. “Super Bowl tourists will see Holocaust photo exhibit at Minneapolis airport”
    https://forward.com/news/breaking-news/392996/super-bowl-tourists-will-see-holocaust-photo-exhibit-at-minneapolis-airport/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Main

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

  1. “How to Save the Memories of the Egyptian Revolution”
    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/an-internet-archive-rekindles-the-egyptian-revolutions-spirit/551489/

  2. “‘There Are Higher Laws’: Inside the Archives of an Illegal Abortion Network”
    https://splinternews.com/there-are-higher-laws-inside-the-archives-of-an-illega-1822280179

  3. “Archives chronicle decades of Baha’i persecution in Iran”
    http://www.newscenter1.tv/story/37305919/archives-chronicle-decades-of-bahai-persecution-in-iran

  4. “‘They’ve been invisible’: Seattle professor studies role of black grandmothers in society”
    https://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/theyve-been-invisible-seattle-professor-studies-role-of-black-grandmothers-in-society/

  5. Trump Administration Skews Terror Data to Justify Anti-Muslim Travel Ban
    https://theintercept.com/2018/01/16/trump-administration-skews-terror-data-to-justify-anti-muslim-travel-ban/

  6. “The Troubling Origins of the Skeletons in a New York Museum” (Thousands of Herero people died in a genocide. Why are Herero skulls in the American Museum of Natural History?)
    https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-troubling-origins-of-the-skeletons-in-a-new-york-museum

  7. “‘Solicitor-client privilege’ keeping 98-year-old document on sick First Nations children under wraps”
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/archives-secret-document-indigenous-children-removal-hospital-1.4513267

Security & Privacy

  1. “The Art of Crime”
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-art-of-crime_us_5a5e7a28e4b0c40b3e59752e

  2. “Historian Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Records from the National Archives”
    http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/167977

The Profession

  1. “Curating Band-Aids, Both Modern and Vintage”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/jobs/curating-band-aids-modern-vintage.html

Legis* Research Team: Goals and Preliminary Findings

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 Rachel Mandell, Mark Prindiville, Ashley Levine, Dina Mazina, and Laurel Bowen.

Who is the Legis* Research Team?

Team coordinator: Rachel Mandell, USC Digital Library and I&A Chair

Team members: Laurel Bowen, Georgia State University; Katharina Hering, Georgetown Law Library; Lindsay Hiltunen, Michigan Technological University; Ashley Levine, Artifex Press; Dina Mazina, US Senate Committee on Finance; andMark Prindiville, Walter P. Reuther Library

What does the Legis* Research Team do?

The Backstory: For those of you who are familiar with the Issues and Advocacy Legislator Research Team of the past, the current configuration is somewhat different. We are taking a different approach and consider this very much a beta structure or a work in progress, if you will. We decided that a revamp was necessary because as we began to reflect on our goals for this team,  I&A vice-chair, Courtney Dean, and I realized that the information collected by Legislator Research Teams in the past have had no direct uses or action items associated with the data. This year, we hope to change that!
Goals: In recent months, we have been in conversation with the Committee on Public Policy (CoPP) about working towards the goal of contacting legislators and potentially engaging in on the ground advocacy work at SAA 2018 in Washington, D.C.. Towards that end, and also towards the end of collecting data for a purpose, we would like the Legislator/Legislative Research Team to try something different.

What does the Legis* Research Team do?

The Task: Legis*: Choose and Monitor (yes, that is a Boolean search/truncation joke)

Everyone on the current team has chosen up to 3 items to monitor. The idea is to explore topics of interest and, in doing so,  see more clear goals/uses emerge from the data. The categories are legislation, legislators, and legislative resources. We will cover topics and people qho have influence and affect archives, funding, social justice, data security and surveillance, labor, etc. No topic is too small or too big; given the rather limited time commitment for this research team, extensive research is not expected. Instead, we seek to have and share a general overview of what’s happening in legislative branches, what resources are out there, what legislation is being discussed, and who is taking the lead on such legislation.

What’s included in your research?

So far the topics chosen are as follows:

Legislation:

  • H.R. 2884: Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act of 2017
  • H.R. 3923: Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017
  • H.R. 4382: Free Flow of Information Act of 2017
  • H.R. 4271: To blog the implementation of certain presidential actions that restrict individuals from certain countries from entering the United States.
  • H.R. 4081: Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2017

Legislators:

  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Hank Johnson (D-GA)
  • Gary Peters (D-MI)
  • Joe Crowley (D-NY)
  • Michael Turner (R-OH)
  • Darrell Issa (R-CA)
  • Mike Quigley (D-IL)
  • Tom Cotton (R-AR)
  • Jamie Raskin (D- MD)
  • David Cicilline (D-RI)

Resources:

  • National Coalition for History, Congressional History Caucus
  • The Hill
  • National Archives Center for Legislative Archives
  • Democracy Now!
  • Congress.gov
  • Senate Committees
  • Senate Legislation and Records
  • Congressional Transparency Caucus
  • Data Transparency Coalition

This year promises to be an interesting year in our legislative branch of government and the I&A Legis* Team will be there to monitor. We look forward to reporting back with with more information as the year progresses!

Preliminary update from Mark Prindiville: 

The Hill

  • Founded in 1994, due to the success of Roll Call, a newspaper and website that reports on legislative and political maneuverings in the Capitol.
  • Can be argued that The Hill is the American equivalent to the United Kingdom’s BBC News or The Guardian.
  • The Hill also operates through its website and has six blogs dealing with politics and legislation.
  • Has a surprisingly adamant social media presence, though it does not seem to have the same positive feedback in regards to its phone/tablet application.
    • If one follows The Hill on sites like Facebook, they post stories and breaking news at an astounding rate.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich)

  • Born December 1, 1958. Served on the Rochester Hills City Council from 1991-1993. Member of MI Senate from 1995-2002. Commissioner of Michigan Lottery from 2003-2007. Member of U.S. House of Representatives (MI-9) from 2009-2013, and again (MI-14) from 2013-2015. Elected to US Senate in 2015, succeeding Carl Levin.
  • Voted for the Recovery Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (not passed), the Paycheck Fairness Act (not passed), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the DREAM Act
  • As of 2010, has a “D” rating from the NRA; 2016’s Orlando shooting prompted Peters to participate in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster
  • In 2017, voted “Yea” on allowing Ajit Pai to become Chairman of FCC; however, Sen. Peters has come out against the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality, including voting in favor to overrule the FCC repeal, along with fellow Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow
Preliminary update from Ashley Levine:

I have elected to monitor three resources to explore how the American media and government document the undocumented, respectively. These include the TV, radio, and internet news program Democracy Now!; legislator Tom Cotton (R-AR); and House bill H.R. 3923, Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017.

My preliminary findings suggest failures of government accountability in documenting abuse of undocumented persons by government agencies, e.g. U.S. Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE), amid simultaneous efforts to bolster aggressive immigration enforcement policies. I aim to unpack the meaning of “government transparency” related to policy affecting undocumented persons, and simultaneously assess the effectiveness of the media in presenting truthful, documentary evidence on immigration matters.

Preliminary update from Dina Mazina:

I’ll be following issues of government transparency, specifically the Congressional Transparency Caucus and their two chairmen, Mike Quigley (D-IL)  and Darrell Issa (R-CA).

In December, Rep. Quigley introduced the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which would establish a central repository accessible to congressional staffs and the general public of federal agency non-confidential published reports. Recently, the bill passed out of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. A companion bill is being led in the Senate by Senators Portman and Klobuchar.

Preliminary update from Laurel Bowen: 

I’m monitoring Michael Turner (R-OH), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and my own representative Hank Johnson (D-GA).  I’m familiar with Michael Turner as a successful advocate of legislation that promotes historic preservation, a field that often employs archivists.  I’ll be interested to find out if Joe Crowley and Hank Johnson, both representing urban areas, are advocates for cultural activities (libraries, archives, museums).  

In researching via Congress.gov I discovered (accidently) that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has introduced H.R. 1376, the Electronic Message Preservation Act of 2017, which requires the U.S. Archivist to promulgate regulations governing federal agency preservation of electronic messages.

Archives in the News: Retention, Repatriation, and Reproduction

Shaun Hayes is a member of the I&A News Monitoring Research Team, which brings us this Archives in the News Research post. Hayes is the Archives Program Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is passionate about sharing current news articles regarding archives and the profession with his students and others. 

 

Three recent news stories have highlighted the relationship between records important to their countries’ histories. The first, “Halting Auction, France Designates Marquis de Sade Manuscript a ‘National Treasure’,” appeared in the New York Times on December 19, 2017. The article details the history of the Marquis de Sade’s famous work 120 Days of Sodom and efforts made by the French government to cancel a planned auction of the original manuscript so that public funds could be raised for its purchase. Interestingly, the article cites the manuscript’s “sulfurous reputation” as one of the reasons for its designation as a national treasure.

The article “Morocco Retrieves 43,000 Archival Documents About Moroccan Jews From France describes the repatriation of archival documents created by Moroccan Jews in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. This example of a country seeking to control records important to their national history differs from the example above in that it deals with the repatriation of records that had been outside of the country seeking control of them for some time, as far back as 1948. According to the article, a main impetus for retrieving the records stems from the 2011 Moroccan Constitution’s recognition of Jewish heritage as an integral part of Morocco’s heritage.  

The third article, “Gabriel García Márquez’s Archive Freely Available Online,” focuses on the online archive of Gabriel García Márquez‘s papers provided by the University of Texas Harry Ransom Center. The article alludes to the controversy surrounding the sale of Márquez’s papers to an archive outside of his native Colombia, or in Mexico, where Márquez spent a part of his life. A previous New York Times article illustrated the outrage in Colombia over the Colombian government’s failure to acquire Márquez’s papers. The more recent article seemingly brushes aside issues of the collection’s ultimate location by stating that “But now, the university’s Harry Ransom Center has digitized and made freely available about half of the collection, making some 27,000 page scans and other images visible to anyone in the world with an internet connection.”

The incongruous views about the importance of records remaining physically located in communities that claim ownership of them is interesting; in the first two examples, France halted an auction and plans to raise millions of dollars in order to retain ownership of de Sade’s manuscript, while Morocco spent years attempting to repatriate records related to its Jewish history. In both instances, the governments of those nations felt that accessing the records that were deemed to be of national significance was not enough and that efforts had to be made to retain or have them returned. In the third example, the Times suggests that simply having access to online versions of some of the records in the Márquez papers should mollify any concerns about the collection’s physical location.

What the Márquez article by Jennifer Schuessler fails to consider is the intrinsic value of the physical papers. The Society of American Archivists’ Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology defines intrinsic value as “the usefulness or significance of an item derived from its physical or associational qualities, inherent in its original form and generally independent of its content, that are integral to its material nature and would be lost in reproduction.” The intrinsic value of the Márquez papers can be found in their uniqueness as important examples of Colombian culture and history. This uniqueness is subverted when Colombians are relegated to simply accessing records that anyone else with an Internet connection can access as well.

This is not to criticize the Ransom Center for purchasing the collection, and it is certainly laudable how publicly accessible it has made some of the papers. What is most troublesome about the perspective of the Times‘ Schuessler is how she conflates issues of ownership and access. Ownership gives the owner power over how and when something is accessed; simply having access to something puts the accessors at the whims of the owners. This is a power relationship that is as old as time, and yet Ms. Schuessler suggests that one is as good as the other when it comes to records.

As archivists, we are well aware of the power that records can have as central aspects of a community’s cultural identity and as the rise of community archives demonstrates, ownership of these records can play a key role in ensuring that records are kept and maintained in ways that reflect community values and priorities. It is our job to continue to educate the public on the role that records play in strengthening and supporting social memory and culture and the vital role that the ownership of records can play in doing so.  

News Highlights, 2017 November-December

The I&A News Monitoring Research Team has compiled this list of recent news stories regarding topics of relevance to archives and archivists. View the full list of news stories online as well. 

Acquisition, Preservation, & Access

  1. “Gabriel García Márquez’s Archive Freely Available Online”
  2. “‘Father of The Internet’ Skewers FCC: ‘You Don’t Understand How the Internet Works’”
  3. “Saving history from ISIS destruction: Benedictine monk preserves historic sacred and secular texts from the destruction of ISIS and the war against it in Iraq”

Archival Finds & Stories

  1. “A Glimpse of American History Through the Process of Becoming a Citizen”
  2. “Controversial sugar industry study on cancer uncovered”
  3. “I read decades of Woody Allen’s private notes. He’s obsessed with teenage girls.”
  4. Thousands of papers lost or missing from British National Archives, including records on Falklands, Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and the infamous Zinoviev letter

Climate & Emergency Preparedness

  1. “Oral history project to chronicle human impact of Harvey” The University of Houston’s Center for Public History plans to interview over 300 participants to discover the human impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Digital Archives, Technology, & the Web

  1. “Data Mining Reveals Historical Events in Government Archive Records”
  2. “Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet, and That’s Okay” Archivists are working to document our chaotic, opaque, algorithmically complex world—and in many cases, they simply can’t.
  3. “Saving Japan’s Games”
  4. “The Librarians Saving the Internet”

Exhibits & Museums

  1. “Illinois Holocaust Museum Preserves Survivors’ Stories — As Holograms”
  2. “Little-known face of famed Nazi hunters shown in Paris”

Human & Civil Rights, Equality, & Health

  1. “200,000 Died in Guatemala’s Civil War — This Digital Archive is Finally Bringing Families Closure”
  2. Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Security & Privacy

  1. “Libraries and the Fight for Privacy”
  2. “Pentagon exposed some of its data on Amazon server”

The Profession

  1. “A Woman Now Leads the Vatican Museums. And She’s Shaking Things Up.”
  2. “The Extinction of Libraries: Why the Predictions Aren’t Coming True”