CPS Steering Committee Election 2019

Open Positions:
 Vice-Chair (1)

Steering Committee (2)


Candidate for Vice-Chair: 

Name: Robert Lay
Title: Head of Arrangement and Description

Institution: Richard B. Russell LIbrary for Political Research and Studies 


Robert Lay is the Head of Arrangement and Description at the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia. In this role, he oversees archival processing and digital projects and serves as the curator of the Georgia Disability History Archive. Robert holds a Master and Bachelor of Arts in History from Louisiana Tech University and has been a certified archivist since 2012.


I have an extensive background in congressional and political collections, having worked with the papers of Senator John Breaux at Louisiana State University, Senator Robert J. Dole at the Dole Institute of Politics, and the papers of Congressman Glenn English and Ambassador James R. Jones at the Carl Albert Center. At the Russell Library, I am responsible for overseeing the accessioning, arrangement, and description of both traditional and digital collections, as well as managing digital initiatives and serving as a point of contact for members of the Georgia congressional delegation who are seeking to place their papers at the Library. I am also part of a team planning the migration of all of UGA’s special collections from Archivists’ Toolkit to ArchivesSpace. In the role of Curator of the Georgia Disability History Archive, I collaborate with disability advocates and activists to plan the annual Georgia Disability History Symposium, highlighting the intersectionality of disability rights and other civil rights struggles and the need for greater documentation.

What do you bring to the CPS leadership?

I have been an active member of both the Congressional Papers Section and the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress since 2011. During this time, I have had numerous opportunities to work with other congressional archivists on outreach and civic engagement projects, such as ACSC’s partnership with the Kettering Foundation to produce The Divided State of America, a National Issues Forum discussion guide for promoting community discourse. My current position with the Russell Library affords me many opportunities to advocate for the mission of political and congressional archives with donors of all backgrounds, administrators, and potential users of our collections. CPS has a history of fostering both collaboration and advocacy in our field, and if elected to the office of Vice-Chair, I would try to support and grow both of those capacities.

What would you like CPS to accomplish in the next 3-5 years?

Congressional papers should be about more than just members of Congress. Much of the work of Congress begins back in the districts with state and local officials, grassroots activists, political action groups, and other entities. Because these individuals and organizations are frequently more diverse than the Congress that represents them, their activities are a vital—and frequently missing—piece in our understanding of American politics and government. If we say that our mission is to document the work of Congress, then we must make an effort to record the voices of those whom congress represents. The current political environment is teeming with grassroots activity, particularly from women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals—all groups who have been historically underrepresented in both government and archives. The timing is right for congressional archives to commit to expanding the diversity of their collections; CPS can and should play a role in encouraging and celebrating those efforts.


Candidates for Steering Committee:

Name: Zach Johnson
Title: Curator of Special Collections

Institution: Vanderbilt University

I am the Curator of Special Collections for Vanderbilt University and I am responsible for soliciting and processing collections of all types and managing our instance of ArchivesSpace. I have a B.A. in Honors History (2013) and earned my M.S. in Information Sciences (2014) from the University of Tennessee. I have worked on the papers of a number of politicians in my time as an archivist, including those of Senators Lamar Alexander and Jim Sasser (Vanderbilt University), Senator Frank Lautenberg (Rutgers University), and Speaker of the SC House Sol Blatt (University of South Carolina). In my current role at Vanderbilt, I am committed to acquiring, processing, and providing access to congressional papers so that researchers from all over can see the value in these collections.

As a relatively new member of the Congressional Papers Section, I am nonetheless deeply interested in political archives and in improving the professional resources for archivists who work on these collections. I bring a wide range of experience working with political papers at different institutions and technical knowledge in contextualizing congressional papers within an institution’s larger archival collections. In the next three years, I would like to see CPS pursue the following goals: continue the excellent groundwork laid by the American Contacts Congress project to create an open-source tool that all archives could use; support the creation of digital and tangible connections between institutions that hold congressional collections to better serve researchers and increase accessibility; create resources that help contextualize congressional collections’ place within the larger lifecycle of political discourse that is documented in congressional and non-congressional collections alike.

Name: Laura Litwer
Title: Digital Intitiatives Archivist

Institution: South Carolina Political Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries

I have served as the Digital Initiatives Archivist at South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) since 2015. I previously worked at Texas A&M University-Commerce as a processing archivist (processing a congressional collection) and as a temporary processing archivist and graduate assistant at SCPC. I earned a MLIS and a BA in History from the University of South Carolina. I served on the CPS Steering Committee from 2014-2016 and on its Electronic Records Committee from 2013-2016.

My experience working with electronic, paper, and audiovisual materials and engaging in a wide range of archival activities would enable me to contribute to the Steering Committee’s efforts to address CPS members’ needs. Having worked at both a robust, well-established congressional papers repository within a large research university and as the sole congressional papers archivist at a mid-size regional university, I can also represent the needs of practitioners operating in a variety of settings. Over the next three years, I would like to see CPS successfully fulfill its strategic plan for 2017-2020 and develop and implement a plan to support the section’s progress beyond 2020.

Name: Rebecca Sherman
Title: Project Archivist for the Sam Nunn Papers
Institution: Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Education: M.A. (History), North Carolina State; B.A. (History and Art History), University of Virginia

Rebecca Sherman is a project archivist at Emory University’s Rose Library, where she has been processing the papers of Sam Nunn for the past three years. She previously worked as an archivist at the Georgia Archives and during graduate school worked at the N.C. State University Special Collections Library. In 2018 she became a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists. She has been actively involved with and held leadership positions in the Society of Georgia Archivists.

As a newer member of CPS, I have relied heavily on my colleagues' expertise, shared resources, and generous spirit. I am excited about the opportunity to become more involved with CPS and give back to the community of congressional archivists. In addition to my experience at a large research university and a government archives, I would bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the steering committee. I work at an institution with only a few congressional collections. I would like to see CPS broaden its membership to reflect more fully the diversity of institutions that hold congressional collections and the archivists who work with those records. CPS has much to offer to archivists at smaller institutions and repositories that don't specialize in congressional collections, and I would love to see more outreach as well as work to find innovative ways to communicate about best practices to as wide of an audience as possible.