Louis Jones, Candidate for Nominating Committee

Louis Jones

Field Archivist
In order for the Society of American Archivists and the archival profession more broadly to excel at collecting, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, it is imperative that SAA and its practitioners embrace its recent and very thoughtful Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.



I have served as the field (aka acquisitions) archivist at Wayne State University's Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs for more than 10 years and spent the previous 17 years as archivist for the Service Employees International Union, also based at Wayne State University. I did not know anything about the archival profession until I was in my late twenties, and by that time I had two degrees: one in history from Morehouse College and a second in African and Afro American Studies from Cornell University. After a mentor suggested I consider the archival field, I attended the University of Delaware where I received my archival training. As an archivist at Wayne State, I have appraised, accessioned, and processed collections, curated exhibits, furnished reference services, provided outreach to prospective researchers, conducted oral histories, and taught an introductory-level course in archival administration. Most of my work in the field has involved working with records associated with organized labor, the historical development of Detroit, and Wayne State University. I have also been active in the Midwest Archives Conference, the Society of American Archivists, and, most notably, the Academy of Certified Archivists where I served as Regent for Outreach (2010–2012) and president (2016–2017). Given my continuing love of history, I successfully pursued a doctorate in American history from Wayne State University where I focused on African American and labor history. This additional training in history has complemented my archival work with meaningful insights.



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

As I reflect on lessons learned from the areas of African American and labor history, which has been my focus over the years, it is clear that US history is littered with far too many examples of people and the groups they represent who are unable to live out the promises outlined in our most important founding documents. These hard truths are well documented, so much so that it is pointless to argue otherwise. As with the history outlined above, it is pointless for me to deny my own biases, largely fueled by this same history. Acknowledging biases are the first step in making the changes we know are right to make. This is where the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion can play a role in disrupting a history where privilege, power, and exclusivity have held sway. Together, diversity, equity, and inclusion are about acknowledging that history and then intentionally creating welcoming pathways for people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures, and sexual orientations, into spaces where they have not been welcomed, let alone acknowledged. It’s not an easy task, but the alternative is less desirable.

Collecting the records and papers of activists has provided me with a window into worlds with which I would not be otherwise familiar. It also reminds me of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. With that in mind, last year, shortly after George Floyd’s murder, I worked with colleagues at Wayne State University’s Walter P. Reuther Library to draft a “Solidarity Statement” in support of “Black Lives Matter and all those fighting for racial justice.” In that statement, we pledged “to redouble our efforts to be good stewards of . . . collections [documenting the work of African American activists], while looking deeply at our own organization and taking greater steps toward equity in our profession.” As I consider our pledge and the hard work required to fulfill it, I can’t help but consider a comment made by a participant in a panel discussion convened by the Society of American Archivists shortly after George Floyd’s murder. There, she made reference to “uncomfortable conversations” our field needs to pursue. In the particular institution in which I work and throughout the archival field, we need to begin—or continue—having these uncomfortable conversations because in them there can be a growth and development our field and its stakeholders need.



The primary role of the Nominating Committee is to identify rising and experienced leaders from within SAA and the archival profession who can bring fresh and diverse perspectives to SAA leadership. Describe how you interpret this core responsibility and how you will work to identify candidates who demonstrate commitment to the SAA Strategic Plan and SAA’s robust commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).


In order for the Society of American Archivists and the archival profession more broadly to excel at collecting, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, it is imperative that SAA and its practitioners embrace its recent and very thoughtful Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. That work plan, encompassing the areas of “Recruitment and Retention,” “Structural Barriers,” “DEI Training and Education for Archives Workers,” and “Archival Practice,” is important because the world in which we live is far from monolithic. The diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, as well as in educational, economic, and other backgrounds is who we are as a world community. We cannot delude ourselves into acting on the idea that so long as we, as archivists, have the technical training to work in an archive and perform the basic functions associated with that work that we are then automatically capable of fulfilling the work to be done. It’s not quite that simple, which is why a DEIA work plan is necessary for this and all other organizations. Needless to say, the work plan is not limited to issues of diversity, as diversity must operate in conjunction with issues of equity, inclusion, accessibility, and cultural competency unless we are to satisfy ourselves with a tokenism that is far from sufficient. We are beyond that.

Part of the reality, however, is that there remains forces against which we must contend and which make DEIA work a difficult effort to successfully pursue. Among these forces is the natural resistance to change. And then there are economic forces with which to contend, because resources are going to be necessary to recruit, hire, and train the diverse and culturally competent archival workforce required for the 21st century.

There is, however, good news. In recent years, archivists, in larger numbers than I have seen before, have committed themselves to ensuring that our professions meet the challenges outlined in our Work Plan on DEIA. Because of this, I am more convinced than ever that we can draw from a pool of professionals who are clearly dedicated to the best interests of the archival profession, as outlined in SAA’s Strategic Plan, and reflecting the diversity that we are seeking in our leaders.

As a prospective member of the 2022 Nominating Committee, I am poised to work with others on the committee to identify current SAA members who represent the diversity that we seek. Given my years of experience, and the networks that I have developed within SAA, the Midwest Archivist Conference, the Academy of Certified Archivists, and through my interactions with archivists elsewhere, I believe I can play a viable role in this endeavor.



Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2022 election:

Vice President/President-Elect


Nominating Committee