Fellow: Steven De’Juan Booth

Steven De’Juan Booth, archivist for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive, will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) during a ceremony at the SAA Annual Meeting. The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession.

Booth’s varied archival career reflects his ongoing engagement of the public with archives, celebration of Black cultural heritage and community archives, and care for archivists and records creators. While earning his MS at Simmons College, he became a project archivist with the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center in Boston, where he processed the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers. In 2009, Booth began working in the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Presidential Materials Division, where he processed the vice-presidential records of Al Gore and Dick Cheney, assisted with the mandatory declassification review of the Harry S. Truman presidential records, and created and served as the lead content editor for Archives.gov vice presidential records webpage. In 2017, he joined the archival staff of the Barack Obama Presidential Library, where he established and managed the archival program for the Obama audiovisual collection, which consists of 3.2 million born-digital photographs and more than 650 cubic feet of analog and digital video and audio recordings. Booth actively engaged the public with archives by contributing content to NARA blogs and social media and serving on the Library’s Electronic Records Working Group, Social Media Committee, and the Continuity of Operations Program team. In 2021, Booth became archivist/project manager for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive at the Getty Research Institute, where he oversees the archives of the publishing company, which published the popular magazines Ebony and Jet, as well as created the television show Ebony/Jet Showcase.

In addition, Booth is a cofounder and organizer of Blackivists, a collective of Black archivists who prioritize the preservation of Black cultural heritage in the Chicagoland area. He has presented widely on topics of importance to community-based archives for both archivists and the public. In 2020, in response to protests against police brutality and systemic racism, as well as documentation efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blackivists published “Five Tips for Organizers, Protestors, and Anyone Documenting Movements” and “Five Tips for Donating Your Materials,” with recommendations that prioritize the safety and agency of the people and communities involved.

An influential member of SAA, Booth has served on the SAA Council (2017-2020) as well as the Black Lives Matter Forum Planning Committee, the Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Review Committee, Appointments Committee, Nominating Committee, and Awards Committee, and in the Mentoring Program. In all these roles, he has shaped how the organization welcomes new members; advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and responds holistically to archivists’ needs. His contributions to the development and operation of the Archival Workers Emergency Fund (AWEF) provided support to 188 archival workers experiencing acute financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Booth was acknowledged for his work both with AWEF and The Blackivists in two Council Resolutions in 2020.

One of his supporters writes that Booth “recognizes the powerful role that those who capture and preserve the history of communities that often go unnoticed can play. He equally challenges and inspires his colleagues to learn, collaborate, and excel in this noble mission.” In discussing the founding of Blackivists, one recommender remarks, “Booth demonstrates his ongoing commitment to an inclusive future for archives, archivists, and the people who benefit from them. In this and so much of his work, Booth has done so without a desire for the spotlight, quietly and persistently pursuing justice, equity, and transparency.”

Booth is one of six new Fellows named in 2022. There are currently 195 Fellows of the Society of American Archivists.