Winner of the 2018 Archives Short Fiction Contest!

The winner of SAA’s 2018 Archives Short Fiction Contest is Jeanne Kramer-Smyth for her short story, “Quarantine.” 

The jury unanimously chose Kramer-Smyth's submission as the winning entry, based on its gripping story, excellent writing, and prominent discussion of preserving and retrieving electronic records. Set in the future during a global epidemic, an archivist, researcher, and donor work together to find vital information that may put an end to the disease. The jury noted: "This story, accessible to archivists and non-archivists alike, points to the vital importance of ensuring long-term access to born-digital information." 

Kramer-Smyth is the electronic-records archivist at the World Bank Group Archives. She earned her masters of library science from the Archives, Records, and Information Management Program at the University of Maryland iSchool after a twenty-year career as a software developer. She is the author of Spellbound Blog where she has published dozens of essays exploring the intersection of archives and technology, with a special focus on electronic records, digitization, and access. Her prize includes a check for $250 and publication of her story in Archival Outlook (Jan/Feb 2019) and online. Read "Quarantine."

Sponsored by SAA's Publications Board, the contest, which ran from August 1 through October 31, 2018, garnered thirty entries. Stories had to feature an archives, an archivist, or archival materials, and could be up to 3,000 words in length. Submissions went through a blind review by a jury of three archivists—Marcella Huggard, Stephanie T. Vaillant, and JoyEllen Williams—who rated the stories based on the writing, plot, and "archivalness." 

Honorable Mentions

The jury also selected three honorable mentions.

  • Rebekah McFarland, archivist for the Sisters of the Living Word, received an honorable mention from the jury for her story “Ester Jones Diaz,” which follows an archivist gradually learning more about the significance of a historical figure. The jury said: "Through a relatable main character, ‘Ester Jones Diaz’ takes us on an out-of-this-world adventure that not only addresses current archival issues but creatively alludes to issues that may face us in the future. The elegant plot progression offers a thought-provoking look at how archival material generated in our own times may appear to our distant descendants." Read “Ester Jones Diaz.”
  • Nancy Freeman, director at the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago, received an honorable mention for her story, “Risk Versus Benefit.” The story delves into an issue of extreme relevance for archivists—the balance between security and access. The jury noted “Risk vs. Benefit” is "relatable and entertaining in a way that provokes readers to consider how they might react to the situation the protagonist faces." Read “Risk Versus Benefit.”
  • Michelle Sayers, archivist at the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, also received an honorable mention for her emotionally captivating story "יצחק דזשאַעקק, אַ חשבו (Yitzchak Jaeck, An Account),” in which an archivist processes documents from the buried archives of Jews living in a German Ghetto during World War II. The jury said: "This story reminds archivists that with each box, folder, and item we process, we have the challenging yet critically important opportunity to revive silenced voices and tell stories of individuals whose lives were cut short." Read יצחק דזשאַעקק, אַ חשבו (Yitzchak Jaeck, An Account).

Congratulations to the winner and honorable mentions and a shoutout to all who participated in this contest! 


About the jury:

  • Marcella Huggard is the manuscripts processing coordinator for the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. She previously has served in various roles at the Kansas Historical Society in the State Archives, the Reno County Historical Society, and the Bessemer Historical Society. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Knox College and Colorado State University-Fort Collins. Huggard was the winner of the SAA's 2016 Archives Short Fiction Contest for her entry "Family Stories." 
  • Stephanie Vaillant is the cataloguing and digitization archivist at the Stratford Festival of Canada. She holds degrees and educational qualifications from Queen’s University and the Université du Québec, and received her master of library and information science from Western University. Previously, Vaillant completed an internship at Puke Ariki and District Libraries in New Zealand and worked as an archivist for the Town of Peace River, Alberta. She has written performative pieces for various cultural institutions, including the Juno Beach Centre (France), and The Waterloo Region Museum (Ontario), and is an active member of several creative writing societies. Vaillant was the winner of SAA's inaugural Archives Short Fiction Contest in 2015 for her entry "A Silent Promise." 
  • JoyEllen Williams is the special collections curator in the Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books at Kennesaw State University. Previously, Williams interned at the Archives Research Center at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, the Internet Archive, the National Archives at Atlanta, the Roswell Historical Society, and the Fulton County Teaching Museum. She is co-chair of SAA's Teaching with Primary Sources Committee and an SAA Foundation Board member. She serves as the Mentoring Program Manager for the Society of Georgia Archivists and is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists. She has published articles and chapters in Archival Issues (2016), Participatory Heritage (2017), Archival Outlook (2018), and Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS (2018). In SAA's 2015 Archives Short Fiction Contest, she received an Honorable Mention for her entry "Coco Mío."