Philip M. Hamer–Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award: Laura Wagner

Laura Wagner, project archivist for the Radio Haiti Archive at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, is the 2020 recipient of the Philip M. Hamer–Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes individuals or institutions that have increased public awareness of archives documents.

Haiti’s first independent radio station, Radio Haiti-Inter, dedicated itself to representing the Haitian masses who had been excluded from political discourse, information and power. In order to make the Radio Haiti Archive more accessible to people in Haiti, Wagner ensured that every recording in the collection has detailed narrative description in Haitian Creole, French, and English. The collection, which comprises some 5,300 recordings, is digitized and publicly available via Duke’s Digital Repository. She has presented on the Radio Haiti project in Haiti and to the Haitian community in the United States, and has distributed copies of many recordings to organizations, libraries, and archives in Haiti. The Radio Haiti collection documents much of twentieth-century Haitian history and amplifies the voices of ordinary Haitian people. The collection is the basis for many scholars’ works, and Laura has also worked to take the history of Radio Haiti back to the people to whom it belongs.

As one scholar noted, “These materials are a treasure trove. They contain first-person interviews with historical persons of various time periods, and provide an indispensable perspective on recent religious and cultural history of Haiti and its ties to the rest of the globe.”