2019 Business Meeting Minutes

SAA Labor Archives Section

Annual Business Meeting

August 3, 2019

11:30 AM-12:45 PM



Ben Blake, (Labor Collections Archivist, University of Maryland);  Conor Casey, (Labor Archives, University of Washington); Kristen Chinery, (Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University); Louis Jones, (Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University); Barb Morley, (Kheel Center, Cornell University); Lucinda Manning, (Consulting Archivist, Labor and Women’s Collections); Crystal Rodgers, (Labor Archives, University of Washington); Vakil Smallen, (IBT Archivist, George Washington University); Gavin Strassel, (UAW Archivist, Reuther Library Wayne State University); Vince Kelley ( Riverside Church); Alex Palma (Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia)

Conor CASEY called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. [Outgoing Co-Chair Robin WALKER not in attendance]

Report from SAA Council Liaison

Keynote Presentation:

Wesley Chenault, Director, Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives,  Cornell University

Wesley CHENAULT will give a presentation on the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives,  Cornell University, discussing the context of the archives and his vision of the future as the new director of the Center.. 

New Business

  1. Welcome incoming Co-Chair Ben BLAKE, acknowledge outgoing co-chair Robin WALKER

  2. Minutes of Labor Archives Section Business Meeting 2018

  3. LAS Retreat at NALHC 2018: Conor CASEY reported back from the Labor Archivists’ Retreat at the North American Labor History Conference at Wayne State. 

  • LAS representatives met in Detroit to brainstorm future directions and projects for the Section. One emergent theme was a labor archives portal of some sort. It was decided that putting energy into getting member repositories to submit Labor Archives Directory updates, and then using existing lists of unions such as Leon Fink’s Encyclopedia of Labor Unions and the Department of Labor listing of labor unions in the US could serve as a scaffolding for entering geographically disparate but topically related collections. This is especially important in light of the lack of a national finding aid network or an archival name authority. 
  • Minutes of 2018 Labor Archivists’ Retreat
  • Future Labor Archivists’ Retreats, Chicago 2020? 

Section Funding Proposals

Conor CASEY reviewed the SAA announcement on Section funding.  A new program for $250 is available, and there is also an existing grant program for $500-$5,000.  He said he will send an email out to the group to generate discussion on possible use of these funds. Possible projects: help fund Labor Archives Directory updates and Labor Archives Portal/wiki/registry, or possibly a pilot project on Social Networks in Archival Context (SNAC)

LAS Session at SAA 2020

Conor CASEY spoke about the benefits of having a Labor Archives Section branded session on the SAA agenda.  

LAS Session at LAWCHA 2021 

Conor CASEY announced that the next LAWCHA conference will be held  and suggested that the Section organize a labor archives session at LAWCHA. 2021: Chicago, Illinois

LAS Session at NALHC 2020

Conor CASEY suggested coming up with a session proposal for the NALHC in 2019.  Ben BLAKE said he will work on putting a proposal together.  http://www.clas.wayne.edu/nalhc/

University of Iowa Labor Center

Updates on University of Iowa Labor Center. In 2018, LAS wrote a letter of support on behalf of the Iowa Labor Center Program, which is under attack by their administration. In 2018, the Labor Center won the ALA RUSA John Sessions Memorial Award, 2018. Updates: As of February 2019, Regents voted to keep it open.

 Future Projects/Working Groups

Conor CASEY proposed forming working groups that would continue the work of LAS throughout the year. During the discussion, several working groups and projects were suggested. 

  1. Labor Archives Directory Update Project. Conor CASEY reminded the section that we already have an editable Google Doc underway that allows members to submit updates to the directory ourselves. Should LAS do more outreach and raise awareness? This represents a systematic opportunity to directory entries. Crystal RODGERS suggested one way to make it easier to send updates about repositor would be to create a Google form, and volunteered to make one based on the Labor Archives of Washington’s. This would allow submitters to respond and LAS chairs could add into our directory ourselves. Conor CASEY noted that one possibility to encourage updates would be to call all repositories already listed in the directory directly for updates.

  2. Linked Data Working Group (Liz PARKER, Michael BARERA, Conor CASEY)

    • It was determined that LAS would form a Linked Data Working group that would explore current trends and future paths in linked data, as well as Wikidata, SNAC, and other initiatives to help report back to LAS. 
  3. Documenting the Now/Dynamic Documentation (Angela WOODALL, Catherine POWELL, Conor CASEY, Ben BLAKE) It was decided that LAS would form a working group to explore Documenting the Now and dynamic and responsive collection building for current activist and social movements. 

Reports on Labor Archives

Vince KELLEY, Project manager at Riverside Church. NY. Riverside Church collect labor records per se. Has a lot of social justice related collections. 

Crystal RODGERS-- Regional Labor Records Survey went out to Labor Unions and Cultural Repositories. 19 completed surveys. 12/19 of historical repositories on labor and of those not “officially” labor in Washington State so far. Entry in SAA Directory now. Took data from repositories and submissions. 12 new entries  to Directory. Regional directory. Phase 2 is underway. Programmatic. For PNW. Page for records survey. Keep it open and monitor periodically. Web archives were considered. Website? Social media/ 

20/32 said “yes” 18 we hadn’t already been crawling. 

Michael BARERA University and Labor Archivist U T at Arlington. He and digital archivist have been developing web archiving across collections. He reached out to all locals who donated print materials in the past. Results: 4-5 solid “yes” donors. Employing Archive-It for labor collections all across Texas. Especially Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Working on Wikipedia, and was a former Wikipedian in Residence. Digital Creation Department is working on getting licensing rights. 

 Alex PALMA 

 Vakil SMALLEN, GWU. Introduced himself as the new Internatinoal Brotherhood of Teamsters Archivist. This is a project position, and Vakil is a full time librarian. Teamsters-come by frequently and are very involved in collection. IBT have events at archives regularly. Vakile is the former chair of Research Libraries Section. 

 Ben BLAKE-Incoming Co-chair of the Labor Archives Section. Special Collections Librarian for Labor Studies at the AFL-CIO Archives at the University of Maryland. The collection contains the AFL-CIO’s archaic and its many affiliates and constituency orgs.   Ben discussed the podcast he is part of, Labor History Today. He has been making Instagram and Twitter posts. His work has also involved onsite surveys. 

 Kristen CHINERY, Reference Archivist at Reuther Library at Wayne State. Noted that there was a Director search underway for the Reuther and that they would be posting a position announcement at end of month. The biggest news this year is the creation of a successful Primary Resource Education Lab. 

 Angela WODALLl--Currently working on her dissertation on social media archiving. Worked on building archives for Grad Students union organizing at Columbia, and was hoping to donate them to the Tamiment. Very interesting in Documenting the Now. 

 Louis JONES: Field Archivist, Reuther Library, Wayne State. Noted that the Reuther is the  official repository for a number of large internationals, including the. AFT, SEIU, AFSCME, IWW, UFW, Archivists are assigned to each of those unions, and Louis building community collections that don’t fall into that scope. 

 Barb MORLEY-Kheel Center, Cornell. Is involved in many digitization projects, including a group of SEIU 1199 interviews done by Leon Fink and Brian Greenberg. These were employed in a  book on hospital workers organizing in 1950s and updates in 1980s.  She is currently prepping a Jobs with Justice collection and a Bread and Roses strike collection for digitization. Leonard Scott’, a management consultant’s, paper have been digitized. These are of interest, as he was a union buster, and it represents Kheel’s first foray, inot tagging for accessibility. They are also working on Archive-It collection, particularly those that are labor related and nonunion. These include NGOs and nonprofits. Even those without papers in the archives. This represents part of the Kheel’s documentation strategy and collecting scope

 Liz PARKER--Technical Services Archivist, Kheel Center, Cornell. It’s official: Liz was hired into that position! Currently, Liz is involved in a broad based survey of collections to track use. Improving linked data, better description, including the Railroad collections. Discovered depth in underdescribed collections. Liz accessioned Lois’ records: a labor historian who passed away. This collections contained a lot of oral histories documenting taxi worker organizing. Others in the collection included entertainment unions such as AFTRA, SAG, IATSE, 

 Worker Center and Casey Women’s Summer School, UALE, Instagram posts. Blog. 

 Conor CASEY: Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington. LAW travelling exhibit program (travelling 5 with an equity, diversity, and inclusion emphasis). Most recent was relating to the Seattle General Strike and was heavily attended. Major activities relate to outreach, fundraising, media, collection : We Do the Work radio show segment/podcast; EDI-centere social media posting program.  Other work includes offering workshops, tabling a labor and labor history events, and partnerships. Some examples include book launches for books that employed LAW collections and state labor council conventions. We also present at our regional labor education center trainings, culture and history festivals MayWorks. A major initiative remains a regional labor records survey of which we are a part. Upcoming projects: Labor History primary source kit for K-12 and college students.  In Service. LAW also partners on collaborative oral history projects. 

Meeting Adjourned at 12:45 p.m.