F. Gerald Ham and Elsie Ham Scholarship Award: Olivija Liepa

Olivija Liepa, who is pursuing dual master’s degrees in archives and public history from New York University and in library and information science from Long Island University, is the 2023 recipient of the F. Gerald Ham and Elsie Ham Scholarship Award. Thanks to the generosity of past SAA President Jerry Ham and his wife, Elsie, Liepa will receive $10,000 to support her graduate archival studies.

In addition to her scholastic achievement in two master’s programs, Liepa has taken an active role in local archival work. She is a member of the Archivists’ Roundtable of Metropolitan New York, and she participated in a grant-funded project to digitize and describe Long Island’s historical materials. As part of this project, Liepa digitized materials and created inclusive metadata for Long Island-based historical societies, prominently the Cherry Grove Archives Collection, which preserves materials from the historically significant resort and safe haven for LGBTQ+ communities in Fire Island, New York.

In her insightful application essay, Liepa describes archival thinking using three frameworks: “the ability to think like a time traveler”; “the ability to communicate the essence of a record and think critically about it”; and “the ability to prioritize and be flexible.” The SAA Awards Committee was impressed with Liepa’s nuanced understanding of archival theory and practice demonstrated by each framework.

SAA's F. Gerald Ham and Elsie Ham Scholarship Award was established in 1998. Previous recipients include aems emswiler, the founder of the Inside Books Project (IBP); librarian Alexandra M. Wilder; and film and media curator Andy Uhrich.