CPS Vice Chair and Steering Committee Candidates (2018)

 

VICE CHAIR CANDIDATE

 

Name/Title/Institution/Education 

Nathan Gerth

Digital Archivist

University Of Nevada, Reno

Ph.D. (History), University of Notre Dame; M.A. (Russian East European and Eurasian Studies), University of Kansas; B.A. (Russian Studies), Luther College

  

Brief Biography: 

Nathan Gerth is the digital archivist for the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries (UNR). He joined the Libraries’ faculty in February 2018. In this role, he manages UNR’s infrastructure for preserving digitized resources and processing born digital materials, including the six million digital objects in the collection of Senator Harry Reid. Prior to UNR, he acted as Assistant Curator and Archivist at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, where he managed sixty-one congressional collections and twenty associated political collections. Beyond working at the Carl Albert Center, he also served as Assistant Professor in the University of Oklahoma’s School of Library and Information Studies, where he applied his technical and teaching skills to creating courses on digital curation and archives management. He is an active member of the congressional papers community, serving as a member of the CPS Steering Committee, the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) Executive Board, and the ACSC CSS Data Task Force.

 

Experience with Congressional Papers:

I first entered the field of congressional papers in 2014, when I accepted a position as archivist at the Carl Albert Center. At the Center, I led or planned the processing projects for four congressional collections, including the papers of Representative Mike Synar and Senator David Boren. Furthermore, I spearheaded several outreach programs at OU designed around the use of congressional papers for civic engagement, including the Local Digital History Lab (water.cacexplore.org), which focused attention on the use of congressional collections to highlight policy issues related to the environment. At the University of Oklahoma, I co-founded and acted as system administrator for ARC, a collaborative ArchivesSpace instance that houses archival descriptions from five repositories across campus, including the largest political advertising archive in the United States. At the University Of Nevada, Reno, I am part of the processing team that sets the standards and procedures for arranging and describing Senator Reid’s collection.

 

What do you bring to the CPS Steering Committee? 

I bring commitment, creativity, and a collaborative spirit to the committee. Over the past four years, I have committed myself to maintaining a strong service record in the congressional papers community. I have devoted time to leadership positions in CPS and ACSC, including the CPS Steering Committee and the ACSC Executive Committee. Beyond that leadership experience, I have also actively participated in collaborative and creative initiatives that involve coordinating work across institutional boundaries, including the ACSC CSS Data Task Force and 2018 CPS Advocacy Day. I believe that my enthusiastic service, along with my experience in a variety of repositories, will help me foster teamwork and new initiatives on the CPS Steering Committee.

 

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

The field of congressional papers is at an important turning point. The growth of civic awareness has boosted interest in collections to new heights. At the same time, the number and technical complexity of collections is growing, due, in no small part, to the significant number of retirements from Congress during the current term. Finally, a new generation of practitioners are entering the field as the archivists who have defined the field for many years also begin to retire. Over the next three to five years, I would like to see CPS address the challenges that will emerge as a result of these developments. As someone who has benefited significantly from the guidance offered by my fellow archivists, I see real value in mentoring the next generation of practitioners as they confront the challenges that come with processing, promoting, and preserving congressional papers. The creation of a modest mentorship program within the organization could go a long way to bolstering the comradery and collaborative spirit that has defined our community. Taking these steps would also help CPS solidify its important accomplishments in the areas of diversity, donor education, and electronic records by fostering the growth of a new generation of leaders.

 

STEERING COMMITTEE CANDIDATES

 

1. Name/Title/Institution/Education

Leigh McWhite, Ph.D.

Political Papers Archivist & Associate Professor

Modern Political Archives, University of Mississippi

Ph.D. in History, University of Mississippi, 2002

M.A. in History, University of Mississippi, 1994

B.A. in International Studies and Economics, 1990

 

Brief Biography:

I obtained a part-time job in the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi during graduate school.  My very first week, I discovered an Order of Cincinnatus membership certificate signed by George Washington, and I have been hooked on working with original historical material ever since!  While completing my dissertation, I became a full-time staff member of Special Collections in 2000.  Three years later, the head of the department asked me to serve as interim head of a newly formed unit of political collections, including a transfer of 8,000 unprocessed congressional and judicial papers from the law school.  A cultural historian, I reluctantly agreed and began work on the papers of U.S. Senator James O. Eastland.  The scale and scope of content in congressional collections applicable to a wide array of research efforts across historical fields and academic disciplines convinced me to apply for the permanent faculty post as political papers archivist in 2005.

 

Experience with Congressional Papers:

I have worked with congressional papers in the Modern Political Archives at the University of Mississippi since 2004.  As the only archivist in this unit, I am responsible for processing collections, responding to reference inquiries, conducting archival instruction, and promoting the holdings through a variety of outreach efforts including exhibitions and programming.

 

What do you bring to the CPS Steering Committee?

Having relied heavily upon the experience, resources, and comradery offered by CPS in the past, I am a dedicated member interested in preserving the vitality of a group that has proved significant in my own professional growth.  I previously served on the CPS Steering Committee in 2008-2010; co-chaired the Electronic Records Task Force/Committee in 2009-2012; held office as Vice-Chair (2011-2012), Chair (2012-2013) and Past-Chair (2013-2014); and most recently served as co-chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force (2016-2017).

 

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

One of the key performance indicators in our strategic plan is for CPS to publish (online or in the newsletter) case studies or best practices for advocacy and outreach efforts.  Many of our members have developed public relations and programming to promote their political collections.  Some of these endeavors are small and simple while others may require large amounts of time and energy.  Sharing ideas and lessons learned will inspire other members and improve the rate of successful outcomes.

 

2. Name/Title/Institution/Education

Brandon T. Pieczko

Processing and Digital Archivist

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia

MSLIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MA (East Asian Languages and Cultures), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

BA (Religion and Classical Studies), University of Evansville

Digital Archives Specialist Certification, Society of American Archivists (2012)

 

Brief Biography:

Brandon Pieczko is the Processing and Digital Archivist at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies (University of Georgia Libraries) where he is responsible for arranging and describing Congressional papers and other modern political collections, as well as managing the Russell Library’s digital archives program. Prior to joining the Russell Library in 2017, he worked as the Digital Archivist for Manuscript Collections at Ball State University (2014-2017) and as the Processing Archivist at the State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society (2012-2014). Brandon received a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) and a Master of Arts degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a BA in Religion and Classical Studies from the University of Evansville. He has also earned a Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) certification from the Society of American Archivists. He is an active member of the Society of American Archivists, Midwest Archives Conference (Archival Issues Editorial Board member), Society of Georgia Archivists, and the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (Constituent Data Task Force and Scholarships and Awards Committee member). Previously, Brandon served as secretary and webmaster for the Society of Indiana Archivists and as president of the Delaware County (Ind.) Historical Society.

 

Experience with Congressional Papers:

As the Processing and Digital Archivist at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, I am responsible for accessioning, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to personal papers and records collected by the library, including those donated by members of Congress representing the state of Georgia. I am also the primary point of contact for the transfer of born-digital records from Congressional offices to the Russell Library. As the Russell Library’s representative on the University of Georgia Libraries’ Digital Curation Working Group, I am also responsible for ensuring that born-digital records received from Congressional offices and other donors are properly curated and ingested into the University Libraries’ digital preservation repository for long-term storage. Prior to joining the Russell Library in 2017, I worked as the Digital Archivist for Manuscript Collections at Ball State University where my duties included overseeing researcher access to the papers of Congressman Philip R. Sharp (Indiana 2nd/10th District).

 

What do you think you would bring to the CPS Steering Committee?

If elected to the CPS Steering Committee, I would bring six years of professional archives experience working at a variety of different repositories including a state government archives, mid-size university, and a large research university (all of which are home to Congressional papers). During those six years, I have been involved in all aspects of archival practice from physical processing, digitization, and digital preservation, to collection development, exhibit creation, instruction, and outreach. I have also been actively involved with and held leadership positions in several different professional organizations including ACSC (Scholarships and Awards Committee and Constituent Data Task Force member), the Midwest Archives Conference (Archival Issues Editorial Board member), and the Society of Indiana Archivists (served as secretary and webmaster and twice as a member of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee). Though I am fairly new to the Congressional papers world, I would also bring a great deal of enthusiasm for the importance of ensuring that the archival materials donated by members of Congress are actively preserved and made accessible to the public in innovative ways that meet the expectations of researchers accustomed to pursing their scholarship and learning in a digital service environment.

 

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

In the next 3-5 years I would like to see CPS focus on promoting efforts to making Congressional archives more relevant to archivists and researchers operating outside of the institutions known for being well-established centers for the study of Congress. Such efforts would include performing outreach to archival repositories that hold only a small number of Congressional collections and/or may be unsure of the best way to process and provide access to those collections. Such organizations might benefit from guidance from professionals (through CPS) who are more familiar with best practices for working with Congressional papers, particularly when it comes to preserving and providing efficient access to digital records including constituent correspondence maintained in proprietary formats. I would also like to see CPS act as a platform for promoting the importance and value of Congressional papers to researchers and scholars working in fields outside of those we have long considered our allies (i.e. not just history and political science). I would also like to see CPS continue to make important contributions to the broader archival profession by encouraging its members to share their stories, tools, policies, documentation, and other resources that might be useful to archivists and curators working in other subfields (e.g. following the Electronic Records Committee’s example of providing online modules for institutions managing Congressional electronic records within their repositories). Finally, I would like CPS to focus on increasing the diversity of its membership and leadership in terms of race, ethnicity, geographic location, and other representational categories by encouraging underrepresented individuals and institutions to become more involved in the organization.