Candidate Statements for 2015 Labor Archives Roundtable Co-Chair Election

Candidate Statements for 2015 Labor Archives Roundtable Co-Chair Election

[In Alphabetical Order by Surname]

Meghan Courtney - LAR Candidate Bio

I would like to express my interest in serving as co-chair for the Labor Archives Roundtable for the 2015-2017 term. Please accept the following as a candidate statement, if necessary:

As the AFSCME Archivist, I work closely with an active union, confirming my belief that many labor organizations have a high level of interest in archiving their materials. They also express new frustrations: email, electronic records, and social media records pose challenges to the labor movement that labor archivists must treat as opportunities. Current records pose many challenges to labor archivists, but are vital to labor history. The Labor Archives Roundtable can be a place to collaborate on these issues and strengthen the bonds between labor and archives.

The Roundtable can also serve as a powerful tool to promote existing collections and newly processed materials within our affiliate institutions. In May, I proposed and led the LAR Wikipedia-edit-a-thon to boost outreach efforts in our institutions. I would like to build on that start to find additional ways we can support each other in increasing access to our collections despite the challenges of limited resources and physical distance. In each of our institutions, there are records that are central to the story of social history that remain untouched. As labor archivists, we can work together to promote and encourage research in these collections.

Thank you,
Meghan Courtney
AFSCME Archivist
Walter P. Reuther Library
Wayne State University


Jen Eidson - LAR Candidate Bio

I am looking forward to working with the Labor Archives Roundtable, and I would be happy to participate in the role of Co-Chair if I am elected.  I have already seen the value of this roundtable in my everyday work, and in recent labor conferences.  The updated Labor Archives Directory is a particularly good resource for labor archivists as well as labor historians and labor unions.

My archival career has influenced the groups I have participated with through SAA.  For several years I  worked at the Library of Congress for the Veterans History Project, a national effort to collect first hand  narratives from military veterans, primarily as oral history interview recordings.  This led me to join the  Oral History Section of SAA.   I served on the Steering Committee for 2 years, served as the Newsletter Editor for 2 years, and finally served as Vice Chair/Chair-elect, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair for one  year each.  As a Steering Committee member, I proposed panel sessions to the SAA Program Committee, and assisted with the nomination and election process for the Section.  As Newsletter Editor I coordinated with Steering Committee and Section members to produce article content for Dialogue the  Oral History Section newsletter, 2-4 times per year, and continued to help with the Newsletter until my term as Immediate Past Chair was complete.  When SAA upgraded all of the Section webpages to Drupal, I migrated all of the Section’s existing webpages and continued to add content.  In my roles as Chair, I worked with Section leaders to find a sustainable method of continuing the SAA Oral History Project which was launched in 2011 to commemorate SAA’s 75th Anniversary.  We added one new position to the Steering Committee to schedule and conduct the interviews, and a second position to transcribe and process the digital files.  In 2013, our Section was also asked to respond to the Belfast Case proceedings.  We decided not to put out an official statement, but to conduct a Live Web Chat with Section members to discuss the issues and identify lessons we could all learn from the court case.  I also worked with Section leadership to develop a timeline of Section activities combining all deadlines for SAA, the newsletter, and the Oral History Project.

In 2013, I began work at the University of Maryland to move the George Meany Memorial Archive into UMD libraries and offsite storage facilities.  After we re-opened the collection to the public after a brief 3-month closure, I found myself immersed in collection management of all labor collections at University of Maryland, including the AFL-CIO Archive.  This year, on May 1st, the University of Maryland hosted the first annual Labor History Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon in conjunction with other labor archives, to build awareness of labor history archival collections and improve the accuracy of Wikipedia to benefit all researchers.  I hope to build upon the success of this event and encourage more participation among members of LAR next May 1st.

I see some interesting intersections between the Oral History Section and the Labor Archives Roundtable, and perhaps we can collaborate together in some ways that would highlight oral history collections in labor archives around the country.  Our labor archives could also explore relationships with the International Association of Labour History Institutions (IALHI) by learning about (and participating in) the Social History Portal.  IALHI is interested in growing their membership among non-European countries.

There are many other ideas to collaborate and bring awareness to our work, such as article submissions to LaborOnline hosted by LAWCHA.  I welcome all ideas and suggestions, especially if there is strong enough interest to create sub-committees to help implement the actual work!

Thank you for considering my nomination!

Jennifer G. Eidson
Labor Collections Archivist
Hornbake Library
University of Maryland