Fellows' Ernst Posner Award: Katherine S. Madison

Katherine S. Madison, processing archivist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives, is the 2018 recipient of the Fellows’ Ernst Posner Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes an outstanding essay dealing with some facet of archival administration, history, theory, and/or methodology that was published during the preceding year in SAA’s journal, American Archivist.

Madison is being honored for “‘Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story’: The Use and Representation of Records in Hamilton: An American Musical,” which appeared in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of American Archivist (vol. 80, no. 1). Her article examines the presence of records both onstage as props and in the narrative of Hamilton, in which they provide both authenticity and authority for the historically-inspired story. At the same time, Hamilton depicts the archival record as incomplete, asking audiences to reflect on the constructed nature of “who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”

The SAA Awards Committee noted that Madison’s well-written and engaging essay “effectively focuses on significant archival issues concerning records creation, the silences or absence of records, and the authority of records as evidence” and is “anchored in continuity with the archival literature on the role of records in society.”