Working Apart/Hosting Together

by Christina Pappous, Walt Disney Archives and 2021 Host Committee Chair

How do you host in an environment where there is no shared location beyond a computer screen? As the 2021 Host Committee considered how to adapt its traditional responsibilities to a virtual conference, the answer seemed to be to go beyond borders!

Although we were no longer tied to the sunny climes of Anaheim, California—the original location of ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2021—the world, as it were, became our proverbial oyster. In meetings, as members bounced around ideas, our understanding of the role of the Host Committee transformed. In an age of social distancing and Zoom calls, we have the unique opportunity to encourage togetherness while being physically apart. The conference theme of “Together/Apart” is particularly resonant as we move forward with the intent to foster the personal and professional connections so vital to archival work.

The 2021 Host Committee is excited to share a taste of what we’ve been planning. In years past, a key responsibility of the Host Committee was to arrange tours with local repositories in the host city—this year, we were able to do that on a national level. After putting out a call for virtual repository tours and experiences, we continue to receive so many incredible responses from archives, libraries, and other institutions across the country—from Hawaii to New York! Below is just a sampling of what you can look forward to during this year’s conference.

  • In the mood to explore a presidential library? Take a virtual tour of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum where “through immersive exhibitions of objects, documents, photographs, videos, and beautiful gifts from world leaders, visitors can get a close-up view of the American Presidency.” Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the museum offers a virtual tour via Google Arts and Culture (
  • Craving a little cultural history? Check out “Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York,” an online record of the physical exhibition curated by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts ( The exhibit recreates the experience of a visitor walking through the gallery, allowing viewers to examine firsthand Robbins’ diaries, drawings, watercolors, paintings, story scenarios, and poems in addition to choreography for ballet, Broadway, and Hollywood. His collections offer insight into how his creative process, personal life, and surroundings influenced his work and how his lifelong relationship with New York City went beyond being merely a backdrop for art.
  • Curious about how colleagues have adapted tours during the COVID-19 pandemic? Staff from the Heritage Center branch of the Anaheim Public Library in California will share how they transitioned from giving in-person, interactive tours of two Victorian-era buildings and an agricultural museum to giving virtual tours. The tours are tailored to third grade students in the Anaheim elementary school district, which includes field trips to the museum as part of its local history curriculum. The public can also watch virtual tours of these buildings. Check out The Woelke-Stoffel House (, the Mother Colony House (, and the Carriage House (

In addition to virtual tours and other peeks behind the scenes, many of our colleagues have agreed to participate in Q&A sessions to share more about their organizations and institutions. That portion is still in its planning stages, along with other ideas the Host Committee is exploring. Keep an eye on the ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2021 website ( and SAA’s In the Loop e-newsletter ( for information on when and how to participate!


As published in the May/June 2021 issue of Archival Outlook

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