Recap of American Archives Month 2018

American Archives Month, held each October since 2006, gives archivists an opportunity to find creative ways to educate the public about the importance of archives. Many institutions kicked off the month by participating in #AskanArchivist Day on October 3. (Check out the ArchivesAWARE! recap of #AskanArchivist Day 2018 here). Throughout the remainder of the month, events, tours, exhibits, and other programs were held across the country with the goal of highlighting archival collections and their connections to local communities. In this post, we are featuring some of the American Archives Month activities to inspire and inform your plans for next October!

Archives Crawls and Bazaars

Archives Crawls are multi-repository tours that allow participants to visit several institutions throughout a day or month and become acquainted with the range of resources held by local cultural heritage institutions. Similarly, Archives Bazaars or Fairs bring together several institutions into a single space, allowing attendees to learn more about local archival resources.

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Now in it’s third year, the Austin Archives Bazaar was held on October 28 and featured 26 area repositories. The event included a full slate of speakers (podcast hosts, PBS series creators, a PhD candidate, and a community organizer) who discussed how they had used archives in their work. An oral history booth, archival film screening, and a preservation station (where attendees could talk to professionals about the best way to preserve their photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials) were also included in the Bazaar.

The Border Regional Archives Group hosted their second annual Bazaar featuring 22 repositories from southern New Mexico, west Texas, and northern Mexico. Archivists, librarians, and curators were on hand to answer questions, short talks about regional history and genealogy were presented in English and Spanish, and scan stations were provided for digitization of family photographs and documents.

The 13th annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar was held at the University of Southern California and included a full day of workshops and presentations including “Researching L.A. 101” which provided advice on getting started with archival research and a panel discussion with archivists and researchers on how archives can reveal hidden dimensions of California’s past. Archivists were on hand throughout the event to answer questions and talk to attendees about their collections.

Elsewhere in the Golden State, the 8th Annual Sacramento Archives Crawl invited participants to collect stamps on their passport by visiting four host locations (California State Archives, California State Library, Center for Sacramento History, and the Sacramento Public Library). Participants who visited at least three of the stops received a set of limited edition commemorative coasters featuring archival images. Other city or countywide Archives Crawls were held in Portland, San Francisco, and Orange County. In Monmouth County, New Jersey, 63 history-related organizations (including archives, libraries, historical societies, and government agencies) came together for the 23rd annual Archives and History Day.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 6.39.54 PMChicago Area Archivists presented Chicago Open Archives, a month-long opportunity for the public to visit repositories in the Chicago area. This year, the event was held in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial and highlighted items and collections focused on Illinois history. The Newberry Library, Chicago Public Library, the National Association of Realtors Archives, Chicago Film Archives, International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago History Museum, and several area colleges and universities were among the participating institutions.

Lectures and Presentations

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SAA President Meredith Evans with Petrina Jackson, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Iowa State University

During American Archives Month, SAA President Meredith Evans spoke at the Ames Rotary and Iowa State University Library for the opening of Congressman Edward Mezvinsky’s Papers. Evans discussed each individual’s social responsibility and participation in the preservation of materials that reflect one’s life and heritage and the complexities and challenges of working with born-digital content.

The Western New York Library Resources Council focused on food throughout the month for their “Harvest of History” themed American Archives Month celebration. Presentations were held at different repositories and discussed how to preserve family recipes and how ingredients and cooking utensils have changed over time. The Council also gathered recipes for their Online Regional Cookbook.

Other Engagement Activities

American Samoa Street Wave

Archivists participate in the 3rd Annual American Samoa Archives Street Wave

On October 19, 50 staff members from the Office of Archives and Records in American Samoa’s Department of Administration Services participated in the 3rd annual Street Wave. Wearing bright Archives Month t-shirts and carrying signs saying “We are Made by History,” “Masina O Fa’amaumauga,” “Celebrate Our Archives Month,” and “Puipui Teuga Pepa,” participants were joined by local politicians in greeting morning commuters in Tafuna. Archivists in American Samoa also sponsored a poster contest for 6th-12th graders on the theme “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” and held a “Night in the Archives” event on October 31.

The South Dakota State Archives hosted a Facebook photo scavenger hunt encouraging people to join in the conversation about local history. The Archives also held a History Trivia Night and an Escape the Archives event.

The Virginia Caucus of MARAC (Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference) sponsored the REMIX Archival Oddities contest asking participants to use archival images from Virginia institutions in new an interesting ways.

How did your institution participate in American Archives Month? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #ArchivesAWARE!

Archival Ghosts: Spooky Stories from “A Finding Aid to My Soul”

The Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) presented “A Finding Aid To My Soul,” an open-mic storytelling session on August 18 at the COSA/NAGARA/SAA joint meeting. The event was a smashing success, with twelve archivists sharing stories to a packed room that were sad, funny, profound, and even a little scary at times.

SAA and COPA will be sharing recorded audio from a number of the storytellers over the coming months. To kick things off, and in the spirit of the Halloween season, here are a couple of ghost stories shared that evening by Jennifer Overstreet and Terry Baxter.

They are a little spooky and do contain some graphic content, so listener beware.

Jennifer Overstreet, Graduate Student, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Terry Baxter, Archivist, Multnomah County Archives

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October 3rd is Ask An Archivist Day!

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The members of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) get excited when #AskAnArchivist Day comes around. This year’s #AskAnArchivist Day will be Weds, Oct 3. On that day, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist, letting us engage directly with the public about what we do, why it’s important, and of course, to share our “most interesting/bizarre/touching etc., records” stories.

Between now and October 3, we encourage you to promote #AskAnArchivist Day among your users and constituents via your institution’s website, Twitter account, blog, newsletter, and any other mediums available to you. View SAA’s public #AskAnArchivist Day announcement  and feel free to pick up language from it for your own promotions.

COPA’s members have found memes to be a great way to drum up excitement. They’re fun and are easily created through an online meme generator. This is a meme from COPA’s own vault that’s been “repurposed” for this year.

kittymeme

Starting October 1, follow the official hashtag #AskAnArchivist, on Twitter–we’ll keep sharing our memes up until the big day. We hope to see yours as well.

COPA members are also thinking of questions we can ask throughout the big day, so that we can join the conversation and hear your archival stories.

  • Who’s the most interesting or famous person who’s entered your archives?
  • What was the most difficult item to preserve in your Archives and why?

…so get your answers ready, and be prepared for more questions coming from COPA! We’ll be using an added hashtag, #ArchivesAWARE, to make it easy to follow our questions.

If you plan to participate, please email SAA Editorial and Production Coordinator Abigail Christian with your Twitter handle so we can add you to the 2018 list of participants.

Advocacy and Outreach at the Annual Meeting

Gearing up for the SAA Annual Meeting next week in DC? If you’re looking for opportunities to raise awareness about and advocate for archives, or to learn about innovative outreach initiatives to spark your own outreach efforts, then the annual meeting is definitely the place to be. For the second year, SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) has put together a custom schedule to highlight the wide variety of sessions, meetings, and events that feature outreach- and advocacy-related content. View the schedule here, and be sure to add some of these offerings to your custom schedule! Some highlights include…

Carpe Media! Communications and Media Training for Archivists
This limited-enrollment, full-day workshop during ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018 is tailored to archivists and record managers with a goal of instilling in participants the confidence to be better communicators. Workshop leader Jason Steinhauer, who is well-grounded in the unique elements of the archival profession, provides attendees with tips and tools to bolster public outreach; stimulate public interest in archives, history, and the humanities; and implement strategies to reach STEM-driven media and audiences by applying the principles of the emerging field of history communication to your own work. Though enrollment for this workshop is closed, you can look forward to hearing from SAA, COPA, and workshop attendees about the results of the workshop–including a recap post to be published on ArchivesAWARE!

Archives on the Hill Event
Archivists take on Capitol Hill in this advocacy event that begins with orientation and training in the morning and culminates in Hill visits that pair experienced advocates with those who want to learn. Speak up in support of federal funding for archives! For more information on this event, read this post by the Committee on Public Policy (COPP) Chair, Dennis Riley, on the Off the Record blog.

Information Tables
COPA will be joining other SAA appointed groups and related archival organizations at the informational tables on the Mezzanine Level of the conference hotel. Stop by the COPA table to learn about a variety of outreach-related initiatives including the ArchivesAWARE blog, #AskAnArchivst Day (OCTOBER 3, 2018), Federal Funding Impact Stories, and plans for a SAA Speakers’ Bureau, among others.

A Finding Aid to My Soul…
COPA presents “A Finding Aid To My Soul,” an open-mic storytelling session celebrating the diversity and commonality of the archivist experience. Storytellers will have five minutes to share true stories about their unique, moving, serendipitous, mysterious, special, and often humorous encounters in the archives (no props, please). Sign up in advance or during the conference for a chance to share your story, or simply sit back and enjoy the tales of your colleagues in what promises to be an engaging and entertaining event. There will even be a few special guests. A panel of judges selected from the audience will determine the top storytellers and prizes will be awarded. For more information about this new and unique annual meeting event, read last week’s ArchivesAWARE blog post by COPA Chair, Chris Burns.

Know of other outreach- and advocacy-related sessions, events, and general happenings taking place next week that didn’t make our schedule? Tell us in the comments below, or let us know which of these and other annual meeting events you are most looking forward to!

A Finding Aid to My Soul: An Archivist Storytelling Event

The Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) presents “A Finding Aid To My Soul,” an open-mic storytelling session celebrating the diversity and commonality of the archivist experience. Storytellers will have five minutes to share true stories about their unique, moving, serendipitous, mysterious, special, and often humorous encounters in the archives (no props, please).

Featured Storytellers

  • Terry Baxter, Multnomah County Archives – Encountering ghosts in the archives.
  • Krista Ferrante, MITRE – Job interviews are tough but interviewing while 9 months pregnant is torture.
  • Virginia Hunt, Harvard University Archives – The ten things they don’t teach you in graduate school all learned in one particularly strange donor experience.
  • Petrina Jackson, Iowa State Special Collections and University Archives – My encounter with a burnt cross, and how this item had a personal, visceral impact on me.
  • Elizabeth Myers, Smith College Special Collections – A tragic love story set amongst the Communist Party and World War II.

A Chance to Tell Your Story:

Five additional storytellers will be selected at the performance. Contact Chris Burns at chris.burns@uvm.edu in advance or sign up at the event for a chance to share your story.

Serve as a Judge:

Three teams of judges will be selected from volunteers in the audience to determine the top storytellers. Prizes will be awarded. Contestants will be judged on sticking to the five-minute time frame, making the archivist central to the story, and having a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show:

Come hear the tales of your colleagues in what promises to be an engaging and entertaining event.

Friday August 17, 2018 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
Virginia AB
Cash Bar

You won’t want to miss “A Finding Aid To My Soul”!

As a teaser, here are a few stories from The Moth (featuring respectively a library card, thoughts on memory, and a letter from Iggy Pop) to give you a flavor of what this format looks and sounds like and some examples to aspire to.

Marvin Gelfand: Liberty Card

 

Wendy Suzuki: Saying ‘I Love You’

 

Ameera Chowdhury: School Night

 

Gearing Up for #AskAnArchivist Day

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The members of SAA’s Committe on Public Awareness (COPA) have gathered in Chicago this week to review and rework our work plan for the next year. With #AskAnArchivist Day fast approaching (it’s this Wednesday, October 4th, in case you missed the announcement), we’re dedicating a chunk of time today to get ready our favorite day of the year.

Last year, the COPA members and SAA staff had fun creating promotional memes for the annual event…

…so we’re creating a few more today for a last promotional push.

Follow the official hashtag, #AskAnArchivist, on Twitter–we’ll keep sharing our memes (the good, the bad, and the ugly) up until the big day. And it looks like University of Chicago Special Collections is getting in on the meme fun this morning as well…

Think you can top these #AskAnArchivist Day promotional memes? Share yours on Twitter today and tomorrow to build up momentum heading into Wednesday!

Don’t worry, we’re not spending our entire in-person meeting creating memes. We’ve also come up with a number of questions that we plan to ask throughout the day on Wednesday so that COPA can join the conversation and hear about your archival outreach successes…and failures.

We’ll be asking/prompting:

“What’s an archivist?” elevator speech in 140 characters or less. Go!

What has been your favorite outreach event that brought people to your archives?

Any collections or repositories you’ve heard of that made you say “There’s an archivist for that?!”

…so get your answers ready, and be prepared for more questions coming from COPA! We’ll be using an added hashtag, #ArchivesAWARE, to make it easy to follow our questions.

See you Wednesday!

#AskAnArchivist Day 2017 participants list