SAA Labor Archives Section Annual Business Meeting 2018

SAA Labor Archives Section

Annual Business Meeting

August 17, 2018

11 AM-12:15 PM


Attendees: Ben Blake, (Labor Collections Archivist, University of Maryland);  Bridget Burke, (University of Oklahoma); Steven Calco, (Kheel Center, Cornell University); Conor Casey, (Labor Archives, University of Washington); Kristen Chinery, (Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University); Judy Ferrar, (University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth); Louis Jones, (Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University); Curtis Lyons, (Kheel Center, Cornell University); Barb Morley, (Kheel Center, Cornell University); Lucinda Manning, (Consulting Archivist, Labor and Women’s Collections); Eva Martinez, (South San Francisco Public Library and Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University); Ellen Noonan, (Archives and Public History Program, New York University); Laura Pratt, (Smith College); Janel Quirante, (University of Hawaii); Crystal Rodgers, (Labor Archives, University of Washington); Michelle Signer, (Trinity College); Vakil Smallen, (NEA Archivist, George Washington University); David Staniunas, (Presbyterian Historical Society); Gavin Strassel, (UAW Archivist, Reuther Library Wayne State University); Robin Walker, (Archivist, International Longshore and Warehouse Union); Casey Westerman, (Institute of Advanced Study); and Debra Wynn (Library of Congress)

Conor CASEY and Robin WALKER called the meeting to order at 11a.m.

Report from SAA Council Liaison

Bertram LYONS presented an overview of the SAA Council meeting.  He reviewed new Council-endorsed protocols for Native American materials, which have been championed by the Native American Archives Section.  The Council also discussed the new task force on SAA staff use that was developed to encourage ethical consideration of money that the SAA receives from external parties.  The Council also discussed best practices for graduate internships and a task force on accessibility.

Keynote Presentation:

Ben Blake, Labor Collections Archivist, University of Maryland

Ben BLAKE gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Labor Archives at the University of Maryland, discussing the context of the Labor Archives, the work to link the archive’s activities to broader social justice topics, the archive’s major projects, such as the current exhibit on display at the UM Libraries, and the next steps in developing collections and future programs.

New Business

LAS Retreat at NALHC 2018

Conor CASEY reminded everyone of the labor archivists retreat at the upcoming NALHC conference. LAS also has a session on the program. He will send out further information on the listserv. Contact him for more information

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.

LAS Session at SAA 2019

Conor CASEY spoke about the benefits of having a Labor Archives Section branded session on the SAA agenda.  Crystal RODGERS volunteered to begin a discussion on proposals. The idea of approaching the Issues and Advocacy Section about hosting a joint session on current issues surrounding archival work, workers, and unions, with the goal of developing standards in the profession was suggested.  Ben BLAKE suggested that the Section could present a session at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives conference and carry it over to the SAA next year. Lucinda MANNING suggested a session relating to labor union organization in libraries and archives, and volunteered to initiate a session proposal.

LAS Session at LAWCHA 2019

Conor CASEY announced that the next LAWCHA conference will be held in Durham, NC in May, 2019 and suggested that the Section organize a labor archives session at LAWCHA.  Proposals are due October 31.

LAS Session at NALHC 2019

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.

Letter in Support of University of Iowa Labor Center

Robin WALKER addressed the threatened closure of the University of Iowa Labor Center and suggested writing a letter from the Section opposing the decision to close it.  She will post a draft for review on the listserv.

Reports on Labor Archives

Robin WALKER detailed the activities at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Library, including digitization projects and a build out of the library’s website.

Crystal RODGERS spoke about her work at the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington (LAW).  The archives is conducting two surveys on labor-related records held by labor organizations and other libraries and archives within the state of Washington.  She also spoke about the LAW social media presence.

Conor CASEY spoke further about the activities at LAW and the goals and possible uses of the survey data.   He also spoke about LAW’s traveling exhibits program and upcoming events commemorating the 100th anniversaries of the 1919 Seattle General Strike and the Centralia Massacre.

Curtis LYONS, past director of the Kheel Center at Cornell said that the Kheel Center is in the process of hiring a new director.  The application deadline is next week. The Kheel Center recently acquired an important collection of archival material from the textile industry that compliments the Center’s existing collection of records from the garment workers union.  LYONS discussed Center staff changes. He also spoke about the upcoming major exhibit on New York City labor at the Museum of the City of New York.

Barb MORLEY noted that Liz Parker at the Kheel Center just completed processing collections focusing on the railroad brotherhoods and is working on projects related to HERE and oral histories, which will go onto the Cornell digital libraries portal.

Steven CALCO spoke about exhibits he is working on at Cornell related to Martin Luther King and the labor movement.  

Kristen CHINNERY from the Reuther Library spoke.  The library has some personnel changes, including a new dean, interim director, and interim assistant director.  There are also two new positions: a labor and urban affairs archivist and an archivist for the United Auto Workers collection.  The library has begun a new podcast.

Vakil SMALLEN from George Washington University detailed some of the archival processing activities and the application in process for a digitization grant.  Tom Connors has retired and the library is searching for a new archivist for the United Auto Workers collection.

Judy FERRAR spoke about the work of the Fishing Heritage Center in New Bedford.  They have collections related to the fishing unions in the area and are looking for more.

Gavin STRASSEL spoke about the upcoming Ruther Pollack Labor Symposium and suggested that it may be something for the Section to consider in the coming years.

Debra WINN, rare book cataloger at the Library of Congress noted that processing has been completed on the Paul Avrich Papers, a collection that intersects with labor history.  The files are available in the reading room and the MARC records are online. The collection includes correspondence, research notes, and oral history interviews, including interviews with Alexander Berkman that relate to the Homestead strike.  The collection was initially acquired in 1986. Winn agreed to do an article for the LAS’s column in LAWCHA’s newsletter about the collection.

Ben BLAKE reported that the University of Maryland has become the official repository of the Washington DC Metro workers union.  The library digitized the first 10 years of the union’s newspaper. The library is also working on some born-digital projects involving the newsletters AFL-CIO Wire and Metro City.  They are also working on getting more collections migrated to ArchiveSpace.

Meeting Adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

RPW/CWA 39521