Diversifying the Archival Record: A Call for Case Studies

Archivists collectively seek to document and preserve the record of the broadest range of individuals, socio-economic groups, governance, and corporate identities in society. Archivists embrace the importance of identifying, preserving, and working with communities to actively document those whose voices have been overlooked or marginalized. —Society of American Archivists, Core Values of Archivists

Diversity is central to the archival mission, with growing recognition of the importance of having an archival record that is reflective of society’s diversity. However, groups that have been marginalized in society, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community, are not represented in the archival record. Many archivists and archives are seeking to fill these archival gaps and give voice to communities that have been silenced.

The Society of American Archivists is publishing a series of case studies on diversifying the archival record. This series of case studies, sponsored by SAA’s Diversity Committee, is intended on helping archivists seeking to diversify the archival record by presenting examinations of projects and initiatives seeking to address the lack of representation in the archival record. Through these case studies, archivists will be able to SAA encourages new and emerging authors, as well as authors from underrepresented groups, to submit case studies.

Developing an Idea

The successful case study will present real-world examples of projects and initiatives that institutions or organizations have undertaken to address the lack of diversity in the archival record, or to highlight collections that reflect underrepresented or marginalized identities. If you have an idea for a case study and would like feedback prior to writing it, feel free to contact Diversity Committee Chair (see the roster). It is not necessary, nor does it guarantee publication, to contact the chair prior to writing a case study. Rather, it is an option if you would like to discuss an idea and receive informal guidance before you begin writing.

Elements of a Case Study

  • Introduction: Identify the key issue(s), the reason for and aims of the case, and the key challenges involved. Set the stage by providing context, including the institutional environment, the underrepresented/marginalized group(s) being centered, and any communities engaged during the project. As appropriate, refer to previous publications or resources that may shed light on this topic.
  • Narrative: Present the story of and analyze the case. Describe the development of the case and any challenges or barriers encountered. Identify any alternatives approaches that were considered and why they were not selected.
  • Conclusion: Describe lessons learned and any ongoing development or modification of the projects/initiatives described.
  • Keywords: A list of optional keywords to describe the themes of a study is offered in the submission form. These will, in part, provide ease in searching among multiple published case studies.

Submitting a Case Study

Once you have finished writing the case study, download and complete the SUBMISSION FORM. This form has required information for the Case Study to be published, such as institutional affiliation, authorship, and summary. As a submitting author, it is your responsibility for understanding and following the “Fair use” doctrine in regard to any quotations and illustrations used in your case study. It is the Author’s responsibility to obtain any needed permissions to include these materials in the case study prior to publication. The reviewers of case studies will not check the accuracy of citations in the case study, the authors should check these before submitting the case study.

After completing the submission form, email the completed submission form with the case study to Diversity-CaseStudies@archivists.org.

Case studies are published on a rolling basis, so there are no set submission deadlines. Please feel free to submit your case study when you feel you are ready!

Review Process

After the case study is submitted, it undergoes a review process. The case study is sent to the Chair of the Diversity Committee, who will assign the case study to two standing members of the Diversity Committee. The Reviewers will read and evaluate the case study according to this RUBRIC and provide developmental feedback aimed at improving the author’s case study. The Reviewers must complete the rubric and return the case study, completed rubric, and their recommendations by the end of three weeks from when it was given to Chair of the Diversity Committee.

The Chair of the Diversity Committee will review the feedback and make a recommendation to SAA’s Publications Editor: to publish the case study; to request revisions from the author before publication; or to not publish the case study. The Publications Editor will notify the case study author within five weeks of submission with the publication decision. A submission will not be considered if is being reviewed by another publishing outlet at the same time, nor if it has been published previously in a similar form.

Publication Process

Once accepted, case studies will be submitted to the SAA Publications Editor and Director of Publishing for light copyediting. If major changes are needed, a version tracking those changes will be sent to the author for confirmation. After the author signs off on a final version, SAA will format the case study and post it to the website as a PDF.

Copyright of the case study will remain with the author, and SAA will acknowledge this in the copyright line that appears with the case study. Authors will consent, grant, and assign to SAA the non-exclusive right to publish and/or distribute all or any part of the case study throughout the world in electronic or any other medium. In return, SAA agrees to publish the work under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license.


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Submission Form36.49 KB