Archival Innovator Award: Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage

Laura Gottlieb, director of Cultural Resources at the Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives at Temple Beth El, and Robbie Terman, director of the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, are the 2022 recipients of the Archival Innovator Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for their work on the Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The award recognizes archivists, repositories, or organizations that show creativity in approaching professional challenges or the ability to think outside the professional norm or that have an extraordinary impact on a community through archives programs and outreach.

Gottlieb and Terman, who work at similar institutions with similar histories, collections, and donor bases, realized the benefits of collaboration, and so the pair developed an innovative approach that increased access to their collections while keeping them legally separate. Under the umbrella of the Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage, Gottlieb and Terman have partnered on programs, joined their social media accounts, and, in 2021, combined their digital databases into one catalog of Michigan Jewish history. In Fall 2022, they will be combining into one physical space.

The collaborative model developed by Gottlieb and Terman demonstrates how two determined solo arrangers can navigate the sensitive waters of archival ownership by placing the collections and their impact on history first, while still respecting notions of ownership and stewardship in their respective organizations. The SAA Awards Committee was impressed by their perseverance and commitment to the shared work. In particular, Gottlieb and Terman have shown that innovation is not necessarily synonymous with a broad institutional scope and can succeed on a number of levels.

SAA’s Archival Innovator Award was established in 2012. This year, the Community-Driven Archives at Arizona State University is also a recipient of the Archival Innovator Award.