2023 Business Meeting Minutes

SAA Labor Archives Section

Annual Business Meeting

Tuesday, June 27th, 2:00pm EST



·       Introduction and Agenda Review

·       Report from SAA Council Liaison Joyce Gabiola (5-10 min)

o   Section Health Assessment

§  Only a little more than 30% of SAA members participate in sections (and there are 48 sections)

§  Current Section Health Assessment Group (Jasmine Jones, Dominque Luster, Lydia Tang, Joyce Gabiola) sent out SAA survey for members

§  Purpose of assessment is to review status of sections for governance requirements outlined in SAA’s governance manual

§  Want to know how sections can be better supported to make them worthwhile for members

§  Goal is to create flexible system over time so the issue doesn’t repeat in the future

§  Working group presented 2-phase assessment; phase 1 is still in progress. Four current options:

§  Continue as section

§  Merge with another section

§  Transition into discussion group

§  Sunset completely

§  Phase 2 will be carried out with sections in good standing (approved by council in July)

§  Council approved 2-year moratorium on creation of new sections; after one year, council will revisit

o   Council approved Archival Worker Labor Taskforce

§  Responsible for identifying and analyzing archival worker labor issues that SAA can impact for the purpose of building long-term structural support among archival workers

o   Meeting is scheduled with LAS co-chairs, opened for questions

§  LAS member Ben Blake requested clarification on multiple questions:

§  Joyce:

§  Clarification that leadership of section and council will come to an agreement on how to move forward, but overall SAA leadership still has ability to sunset

§  Adhering to governance helps add to section case to continue

§  Confirmed it’s partly a staffing/cost issue

§  While members won’t be voting to maintain or sunset groups, they provided the online survey so members could provide their feedback

§  LAS member Conor Casey sharing that many LAS members are members of SAA because of their LAS membership, not the other way around

§  LAS member Aliqae Geraci requested information about discussion group vs. section:

§  Joyce: discussion groups do not need to adhere to governance requirements or hold elections

§  Discussion groups will have technical support, unclear whether they will have liaisons (waiting to hear confirmation on that)

§  Survey included questions on SAA connect – multiple members discussed challenges being kicked off listservs

§  Sarah and Steven will be meeting with Joyce, and had planned to gather member feedback during the brainstorming portion of the meeting to take back to Joyce

·       New Business

o   Acknowledge outgoing Co-Chair Sarah Lebovitz

o   Governance

§  LAS needs two members for a steering committee – anyone interested in the role should nominate themselves as soon as possible

§  Ben Blake and Conor Casey volunteered

o   LAS archivists retreat information

§  Vakil Smallen offered to host a tour of the Teamster’s Archive at George Washington on July 26th 11am, retreat will happen at 1:30pm

o   LAS relevant sessions and/or tabling at upcoming conferences

§  Organizing Archivists: Archives and Libraries in the Labor Movement – this panel will by hybrid

§  Reframing Labor Collections as Social Justice and Community History – this discussion will be virtual

·       Report outs

o   LAS Communications team

§  Conor Casey and Steven Calco, looking for additional volunteers

§  Alan Wierdak volunteered

·       Institution reports and presentations from members (5 min each)

o   Tanya Hollis: Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University

§  Received papers of Bob Cherney, working on Harry Bridges biography. Includes research files, including audio files, with hopes to digitize and make accessible

§  Received papers of Mike Gold, “Jews without Money.” Very leftist Communist, taught at the California Labor School and People’s World

§  Digitized all photography from California Labor School, increased reference requests related to the school. Scanned catalogues and placed them online. Opportunities to program with the Labor Chorus and others bringing attention to the school

§  Bracero Program – received papers of Henry Anderson, family wanted materials digitized and provided $250k to digitize materials from the program. Collection is vast, about 17,000 items and hired archivist Leah Silva and are working with vendors to digitize material. Items will start showing up in the Internet Archive

§  Radical Elders, interviews from group of leaders.

§  Created Canvas module for faculty to drop into classes on Watsonville Cannery strikes; requested a module on “What is a union?” Included contemporary organizing to provide context for students.

§  Exhibit of photography of Otto Hagel and Hansel Mieth

o   Ben Blake: University of Maryland, AFL-CIO

§  Touring around conferences to promote ongoing project on digitizing AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department Records

§  Digitizing both manuscript and AV materials for access online

§  Dr. MLK participation in Scripto strike in Atlanta and hospital worker strike in NYC

§  Working on grants to digitize the whole set of records

§  LAWCHA (Labor and Working-Class History Association) in Lowell

§  LAWCHA: ongoing lesson plan repository, but also announced at most recent LAWCHA that they’re building a website to link to resources around labor history

§  In the future at conferences would like to do information tables, would love to do one big joint table with information from all the LAS archives

§  Six conferences coming up, including UALE (United Association for Labor Educatino)

§  Association for the Study of African American Life and History: giving presentation on Black Lives Matter

§  Will likely do exhibit for Civil Rights Conference

§  Wants to create traveling exhibit to also showcase at Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

§  Working to have the traveling exhibit at the A. Philip Randolf Institute at the end of July

o   Aliqae Geraci: Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs

§  Recently completed two searches: processing archivist and digital curation and preservation archivist

§  Posting a position for instruction and outreach archivist

§  New Library System Dean along with new Wayne State President

§  WSU Libraries are migrating to a new digital collections platform – ContentDM

§  Wrapping up the Walter P. Reuther digital archive and legacy project through the Walter and May Reuther Memorial Fund

§  $120k funding from fund

§  Papers of Horace Sheffield Jr., a prominent Black Trade union and social organization leader in Detroit

§  Comes after a long period of discussion with family in the area, and will come to Reuther almost fully processed

§  Reuther staff involved in a variety of events, Local Pride at work, 60th anniversary of Dr. MLK’s March for Freedom in Detroit, attendance at the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, UALE, Labor and Employment Relations Conference

o   Conor Casey: Labor Archives of Washington

§  Got renewed state funding, increased by $50k a year, helps pay for staffing, vendors, and materials/supplies

§  Processing impact survey using ArchivesSpace assessment module, looking at 12 years of processing in a programmatic way, want to see scope of doing a reparative description project

§  Migrating legacy exhibits for ADA and multilingual compliance, as well as converting traveling exhibits to digital

§  Oral history projects, moving into Internet Archive and creating full transcriptions and captions (along with perma links to ensure fixity)

§  Adding multilingual facets/plug-ins in Wordpress to enhance accessibility

§  Carlos Bulosan (Filipino poet/activist/labor organizer)

§  Linked Wikidata projects, will at some point report out to section on potential adjacent work in creating unified networks for name authorities across repositories

§  Working in ISchool, getting students hands-on experience

§  Articles: ALA Building Community Archives, wrote book chapter on corrective collecting; Working Class and American History series with similar theme

§  Out of storage space, considering a moratorium for physical collections

§  Focusing on oral histories and migrating legacy

§  Thanks to work done by Crystal Rodgers through collection surveys, there’s ability to do some strategic planning for regional stakeholders

§  New Dean of Libraries, awaiting new Head of Special Collections

o   Zach Brodt: University of Pittsburgh

§  Scanned all the United Electriacl Workers (UE) news in their repository from 1939-2010

§  Partnered with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area to get NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture grant – did two week-long workshops for K-12 and museum educators on Homestead Steel Strike and how it relates to labor movement, industrialization, immigration, etc

§  Got to go to a lot of really interesting sites, path of Pinkertons on day of the Battle of Homestead

§  Go for the grant! Educators are eager to learn how they can get more labor history in the classrooms

o   Alan: University of Maryland, AFL-CIO

§  Larry Kirkman, former dean of Film School at American University and Executive Director of the Labor Institute of Public Affairs, wanted to connect with his material for research purposes

§  Wants to digitize master copies and make accessible

§  Part of larger project of opening AFL-CIO records through 2009

o   Steven Calco: Kheel Center

§  In final phase of moving into ArchivesSpace, switching to AEON

§  Marsha Clark, longtime Kheel Center employee, recently retired (over 40 years at Cornell)

§  Director Wesley Chenault has left for Smithsonian, Curtis Lyons is currently active director of Kheel Center

§  Hoping to have positions going through the queue in the next few months

§  Kheel Center Textile curator, Marcy Farwell, coordinated several exhibits across several Cornell Libraries called “Threads of History”

§  Focus on textiles and labor unions

§  Exhibit on the real Norma Rae, Crystal Lee Sutton

§  Awarded a DECAPS grant to digitize materials from International Workers Order collection

·       Ideas and Brainstorming

o   Discussion of future projects

§  This section has done a lot of work over the past few years and created a lot of great deliverables

§  How to manage union records

§  Labor Archives directory

§  Conor:

§  Initial founding of section was about debate vs. distribution of labor records, has grown into coordinated body of resource and information sharing and collaboration

§  Continued to make contributions to annual program of SAA and intersectional nature of labor history that many our colleagues don’t always see

§  Forum to share information and have collegial network of doing these kinds of projects

§  Being section co-chair can be a lack of feedback position, feels it’s been exciting to see people stepping up and taking leadership roles and new projects

§  Louis:

§  Cohesive and viable entity, doesn’t anticipate there being a problem with this remaining a section

§  Lisa:

§  Couldn’t help but think of the irony of sunusetting this section while creating a section on archival labor and advocacy

§  Sarah:

§  From co-chair perspective, sunsetting will not be advocated for

§  This group allows for really important connections for day-to-day work

§  Stefanie:

§  Adding that as chair of another section, it’s vital to section for people to volunteer for steering committee (issue with a lot of sections currently)

§  Continuing to invite colleagues who aren’t as active or who may not know about the section

§  Steven:

§  Noted issues with e-mailing and listservs (people getting unsubscribed, people getting too many emails)

§  Secondary email chain for people who might be missing the LAS emails (allows direct emails)

§  Alan:

§  New to SAA and to LAS, grateful to be part of conversations

§  What collectively should happen? Keep the section as is or modify in some way?