The House Archives Built by Dorothy Berry (up//root)

Academics continuously loosen the concept of the archives in vigorous debate and flowery speech, while hundreds of linear feet of Black history are stacked in secure shelving, unbeknownst and inaccessible to implicated communities. “Why do we even have this?” is a recurring question whispered across institutions as complex histories of provenance and acquisitions lead to single box collections with titles like “Miscellaneous Slavery Documents,” a collection of Freedman’s Bureau papers and Bills of Sale I recently encountered. 
In the face of this guilt-inducing backlog, special collections have turned towards digitization as a solution, prioritizing getting images of Black people online and hoping that will be enough. I’ve commiserated with colleagues about demands to streamline digitization with the feeling that getting things online will increase access- even without full description or detailed metadata, the things that guide digital discovery. Digital collection development has been presented as a liberatory access provider, with the idea that reparative access is primarily a workflow adjustment.
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