Diversity Award: Julie Varee

Julie Varee, the community outreach archivist at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska, is the 2022 recipient of the Diversity Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing diversity within the archives profession, SAA, or the archival record.

With more than thirty years of experience working with Alaskan community members, Varee brings a wealth of knowledge to her archival work. Varee has taken on a leadership role in the Anchorage Museum's diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and anti-racism training programs. She spearheaded the creation of the new Black Lives in Alaska exhibition, which showcases the richness and resilience of Black lives in Alaska through archival photos and collected materials. In the past year, she has developed and supported programs with Filipino, LBGTQ+, Pacific Islander, and refugee/immigrant communities. She has also advocated for the inclusion of and emphasis on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) voices and stories within the archives, in exhibits, and on the museum’s social media. Having recognized the need to address the lack of diversity in the museum’s patrons, Varee undertook an assessment and analysis to improve visitor experiences. She acknowledged the need to create a space that can be used by everyone, not just academic researchers.

Varee also developed and promoted relationships with HistoryMakers, which collects oral histories of African American individuals from all fifty states. The Anchorage Museum became the first institution to acquire the physical archives of each of the eighteen Alaskan HistoryMakers. As noted by one of her nominators, “Julie is committed to surfacing, preserving, and highlighting stories that have too often been overlooked or marginalized. Her continued commitment to exploring a more robust, rich, and complicated history of who we are as a people, as a country, and as Alaskans is commendable and necessary work.”

The Diversity Award was established in 2011. Previous recipients include Judy Tyrus, SAA Fellow Rebecca Hankins, and the Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project.