F. Gerald Ham and Elsie Ham Scholarship: aems emswiler

aems emswiler, a doctoral student in the School of Information at the University of Arizona, is the 2021 recipient of the  F. Gerald Ham and Elsie Ham Scholarship given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The $10,000 scholarship supports the graduate archival education of a student who is studying at a United States university program. Scholarship selection criteria include the applicant’s past performance in their graduate program in archival studies as well as faculty members’ assessment of the student’s prospects for contributing to the archives profession.

emswiler holds dual master’s degrees in information studies and women’s and gender studies from the University of Texas, Austin, where they were active in their SAA student chapter and received the Trailblazer Award by the Texas Digital Library for their work preserving and digitizing materials through Omeka. In their insightful application essay, they describe their developing awareness of the importance of archives and archivists to protect controversial resources and the rights of others. emswiler was an Archival Fellow for the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), and from 2012 to 2020, they documented the impacts of carceral state violence on incarcerated peoples in Texas and worked to provide information access for people on death row. Their interest in the intersection of community archives, critical archival studies, and narratives of incarceration led to founding the Inside Books Project (IBP) Archive. IBP is a nonprofit books-to-prisons collective, and its archives preserves and makes public the writings and art sent by incarcerated patrons as well as evidences of IBP's history, such as newsletters, event fliers, and photographs.

emswiler impressed the SAA Awards Committee with their drive to explore both theory and practice as it relates to ignored and underdocumented communities and the potential of their future contributions to the archival profession. One of emswiler’s faculty nominators noted: “Talented, dedicated, generous, and incredibly smart, emswiler demonstrates a commitment and remarkable ability to approach their archival work, community commitments, and pedagogical pursuits with integrity and in a way that is cohesive and includes meaningful outreach.”