June 10, 2009
For academics, summer is the time to clean their offices and send the stuff they’ve collected throughout the year over to the archives. How do I know this? Because for the last few weeks I’ve had to stumble over people’s “stuff” to get into my office. As in I keep finding random boxes of material without any sort of identification sitting in front of my door when I arrive in the morning. I don’t know who the little fairies are that keep leaving this “stuff” for me but I have a couple of things to say to them: 1. I sincerely appreciate your efforts to contribute to the history of the University but (and this is big) 2. if you don’t ID the material I can’t give you proper credit (and if you’re embarrassed to admit the material is yours then, um, you probably shouldn’t send it to the archives :-)).
Oddly enough, I had read this post a while back and thought, oh you poor thing, I am so glad I don’t have to deal with that. *sigh* I spoke too soon. Anyway, this random dumping of material caused me to throw out a question to my friends in the Twitterverse about how they deal with unidentified material being left at their office and there seemed to be a lot of differing opinions. First of all, let me clarify that I am talking about records transfers from an office on campus to the archives, not donations from community members or alumni.
The prevailing answer seemed to be that I should do nothing and allow people to continue sending material to the archives because to do otherwise might discourage them from sending anything at all. While I do understand this argument (and, believe it or not, I do consider it to be a legitimate argument as I have been accused of living by the “all or nothing code” on way too many occasions), I don’t think it’s acceptable to just leave stuff at the door of the archives either.
I think it’s perfectly acceptable to lay down some ground rules for a variety of reasons, here are a few:
- I am dealing with limited space so storing material until I can get around to processing it is really not an option
- If the person leaving the material cannot answer the 4 Ws and the H, how can I?
- Leaving material without at least letting me know where it came from destroys provenance
Therefore I’ve proposed that at our next manager’s meeting we discuss instituting a records transfer policy that would include a little bit of paperwork (nothing too time consuming but something that will help me to answer the 4 Ws and the H). I’ve looked at the records transfer policies for Drexel University and the University of Texas at San Antonio and I think these would be terrific jumping off points.
I also like what Linda Benedict said:
- If it’s in a picture frame, remove it from the frame before sending it. I really don’t have a lot of space for frames and things like that.
- Include as much information about who is in the picture, what the event was and the date. While I realize that sometimes not all of this is known, it would really help if there is a tiny bit of identifying information even if it’s just the office where the material originated from, sometimes that can spark a memory for others.
- If you have absolutely no information, you can keep it. I won’t go that far but I would say think like a researcher before you send unidentified material to the archives, is it really relevant? Does that random picture tell a story? Is there a connection to the University? If not, then don’t send it. If there is, send it and let us determine whether it’s a keeper or not.
*Just a note, italicized words are my own random musings.
March 11, 2009
Those who know me would be surprised to find out that back in the day I used to be somewhat militant. I held my fist up high and demanded an end to Nelson Mandela’s incarceration as well as an immediate end to apartheid.
In fact, I stunned and embarrassed my family by taking a silver magic marker and writing all sorts of anti-apartheid, free Nelson Mandela and anti-racist slogans on my black suitcase when we moved from Italy to Mississippi.
Skip ahead many years and I have softened my stance somewhat but my blood still boils when I see the injustices in Darfur or the inadequate coverage that missing women and children of color receive as opposed to the media coverage received by missing white women and children. I have heard the argument that it’s about ratings and sympathy. Whatever. Everyone is someone’s loved one and regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation they deserve to be acknowledged and found if they are lost. And they deserve justice if they are injured or, worse, murdered. But I digress….
Recently, I stumbled across the African Activist Archive and was totally thrilled. The purpose of the archive is to preserve the records and memories of African activists in the United States from the 1950s through the 1990s.
The project is assembling a wide variety of historical material including pamphlets, newsletters, buttons, t-shirts as well as audio and video recordings.
They are currently soliciting material from those who were actively involved in the cause of liberation for African people. As a historian, a librarian, an archivist and a woman of color who was down for the cause I hope that people will contribute to this worthwhile effort.
March 9, 2009
Move over, Oscar! Save the drama, Grammys!
It’s time to submit nominations for the Best Archives on the Web Awards.
The categories for this year are:
- Best Archives Website
- Best Institutional Blog
- Most Whimsical Archives-Related Website
For a full list of rules, please check here.
The deadline is midnight Sunday, 15 March.
Best of luck to all nominees…..
December 4, 2008
A while back I mentioned that I was about to embark on a new project for the archives, now that it’s official I can talk about it. In 2005, Donna Snelson and a group of nurses interested in preserving the history of nursing in Northeastern Pennsylvania founded The Center for Nursing History at Misericordia University. The collection itself was housed and maintained in the Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle Archives but did not technically belong to the Archives or to the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library, instead it fell under the Nursing Department. Recently, ownership of the collection was transferred to the Archives. Transferring ownership of the collection to the Archives allows for greater flexibility and accessibility for the collection. One of the major projects I will begin working on with Donna Snelson and other members of the nursing department is putting the pictures on flickr.
My first “outing” as the archivist for Misericordia University was a reunion for the Wilkes-Barre General Alumni Association’s Class of 1958. I met many wonderful people at this reunion who had some incredible stories to tell about what nursing was like “back in the day.” At the reunion, they asked me about putting the pictures on flickr and allowing them the opportunity to see them and share their memories with each other. I promised them that as soon as I received the go ahead, I would do so.
I now have a volunteer who will work strictly with The Center for Nursing History collection and will begin scanning photographs for me next week. She will begin with the earliest (but least fragile) photographs and move forward. Some of the photographs that we have date from the mid to late 1800s. We tried doing a test scan of those today and they simply did not come out very well; the nurses were in all white, so there were contrast issues. If you have suggestions on how to make adjustments, I would appreciate the tips.
To say I’m excited about the opportunities for the Archives and for the development of our special collections, would be putting it mildly. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures.