Diversity Forum

2020 Diversity Forum

The Council of the Society of American Archivists released a statement on June 2, 2020, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Council unanimously condemns harassment and violence against the Black community in this statement and calls for a space “for constructive discussion toward progressive change in the archival profession and true inclusivity of the archival record…” The 2020 Diversity Forum, hosted by SAA’s Diversity Committee, seeks to provide a collective space for SAA members to reflect on the statement and brainstorm ideas about creating change from top to bottom within SAA, with a particular emphasis on ensuring accountability to reduce harm to Black and brown people and begin repairing centuries of violence committed against Black people in our society and in our profession.

SAA Council Statement on Black Lives and Archives

2019 Diversity Forum

While gender diversity has moved into mainstream public discourse in recent years, transgender and gender non-conforming people have existed throughout history. Some are easier to identify than others, like activists, community leaders, and those who openly challenge traditional gender roles, while others couldn’t be open about their identities or left behind little written documentation. In terms of archival descriptive practice, self-identification and evolving vocabulary complicates how archivists describe gender non-conforming people when we don’t know how they would have described themselves and when terms’ definitions change over time. As for providing archival public services, issues like lack of public accommodation protections, being unable to obtain ID cards, having a different name on the ID, keeping gender identity private, and more affect researchers’ visits to our institutions. Panelists discuss the ways in which transgender identities of people who appear, work, or research in archives shape collection development, donor relations, description, outreach, and access.

Moderator: Cheryl Beredo
Panelist: Raananah Sarid-Segal

2018 Diversity Forum

While discussions on race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and gender identity are frequently included in discussions of diversity in archives and the archival profession, considerations of accessibility for archival workers and researchers, disability-centered collections, and disability culture, are often overlooked in these conversations. This year’s Diversity Forum will increase awareness of accessibility in archives and our profession. Panelists will share their experiences serving as care providers, working with Braille materials and with sighted and blind researchers, and provide an update from SAA’s Task Force to Revise Best Practices on Accessibility.

Moderator: Harrison W. Inefuku, Iowa State University
Panelists: David McCartney, University of Iowa; Anna Kresmer, National Federation of the Blind; Sara White, Co-Chair, SAA Task Force to Revise Best Practices on Accessibility

2017 Diversity Forum

Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in the field of archival science, whether in developing collections, supporting graduate students, or providing outreach. Less has been said about the lived experiences of the representatives of "diversity" in our profession itself. Archivists from marginalized communities often end up standing as representatives for a broader whole in ways that make navigating the profession more complex and challenging than it is for others. This forum, sponsored by SAA’s Diversity Committee, features panelists who are established archivists from a variety of backgrounds and identities who explore and explain the personal and structural state of "inclusive" archives.

Moderator: Dorothy Berry, University of Minnesota
Panelists: Nancy Liliana Godoy, Arizona State University; Petrina Jackson, Iowa State University; Derek T. Mosley, Auburn Avenue Research Library; T-Kay Sangwand, University of California, Los Angeles

2016 Diversity Forum

The Right to Dis-Remember: Contested Spaces of Memory through Public History and Archives

The removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House and public statutes and the recent renaming of college dormitories on campuses highlight the complex ways in which monuments and memorials frame public history. Panelists discuss the various ways in which different stakeholders (e.g., public and city officials, public and private institutions, and archives) craft public memorials for very different purposes and how diverse (and often marginalized) communities often craft counter narratives to the ways historical events and places are publicly celebrated.

Panelists: Christiana Dobrzynski, Bryn Mawr College; Maurice J. Hobson, Georgia State University; Enrique Chmelnik Lubinsky, Center of Documentation and Research of the Jewish Communities in Mexico; Kara Tucina Olidge, Tulane University

2015 Diversity Forum

The Secret Life of Records

What are the unknown or unexplored aspects of an archival record? This forum explores notable applications and implications of collection management in a contemporary, digital context as it relates to underrepresented groups. Panelists discuss the challenges related to acquisition, preservation, and accessibility of non-traditional records, such as born-digital materials and media-based materials that can easily be altered or lost. Using recent examples, such as unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager, panelists use social media and digital initiatives as a prism through which to view archival records and documented history versus lived experiences. The speakers represent diverse archival backgrounds, including familiarity with media and film records, human rights and government records, community-created records, and social media records.

Moderator: Sofa Becerra-Licha, Berklee College of Music
Speakers: Jarrett Drake, Princeton University; Nadia Ghasedi, Washington University in St. Louis; Bergis Jules, University of California, Riverside; Stacie Williams, University of Kentucky

2014 Diversity Forum

Diversifying the Archival Record

Panelists representing diverse perspectives discuss what it means to diversify the archival record and how we might commit to creating ways to make a change within the archival profession.

Panelists: Mary Caldera, Yale University; Matthew Fredericks, Wayne State University; Lauren Gaylord, Pixar Animated Studios; Bergis Jules, University of California, Riverside; Kathryn Neal, University of California, Berkeley

2013 Diversity Forum

Memory and Power: How Diversifying the Archives Can Help Us Welcome the Future

Archives have long represented the privileged in society. The preservation of this exclusionary "past" continues to legitimize the dominance of those in society with power and access. But demographic trends demonstrate that the future of the United States will instead reflect a global diversity. This demands that we diversify the archives so that we represent and understand society more completely, rather than be haunted by silences. Two alternatives for community memory building through public engagement illustrate this: eBlackCU.net and CUwiki.net. This forum talk will elaborate on these projects and others and provide a framework for planning to launch new initiatives to diversify the archival record.

Speaker: Abdul Alkalimat (McWorter), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign