Steering Committee Nominees

Ben Blake, Director, George Meany Labor Archives, University of Maryland, College Park

Steering Committee Statement

Before becoming the Director of the George Meany Labor Archives, University of Maryland, College Park in 2016, I had significant experience in labor archives, including two years at San Francisco State's Labor Archives and Research

Center and have been responsible for the archives of union records and labor related collections in Cleveland, Youngstown and Baltimore. I hold a BA in Social Science from Hampshire College, MA in labor history from Cleveland State, an MLIS form the University of Pittsburgh, and the DAS certification from SAA.

One of my key priorities would be helping build a closer relationship with LAWCHA, LRAN, UALE, NALHC, WCSA and IALHI. For example, the UMD team attended the recent LAWCHA conference promoting the use of the Meany Archives. in the future, I would like to play a role in promoting all labor archives at LAWCHA and other conferences. Recently, I also volunteered for to be a member of the LAWCHA Digital Labor History Incubator, lead by James Gregory, University of Washington, Tobias Higbie, UCLA, and Vilja Hulden, University of Colorado. I would like to work to involve Section members in this project, including a major grant proposal, which has already been drafted by these three professors. I also think supporting Cornell's project on digitizing union contracts is very important and has proven to be of great worth to the labor movement. In addition, we should revisit the national directory of labor collections project, which we discussed at the Section retreat at last year's North American Labor History Conference. I am also very much interested in working with the Section to explore ways in which we might be able to apply a "documenting the now" approach to labor archives."


Conor Casey, MA, MLIS, CA 

Professional History 

I’ve been working in archives since 2000, starting as archival assistant at the Labor Archives & Research Center, SFSU and becoming an archivist and curator (2001-08). I hold BAs in Anthropology and History, an MA in US History, a MLIS in archives and reference, and am a certified archivist. My research interests include social, labor, immigration, and ethnic history; oral history research and curation; and EDI-centered archival administration. I worked as an archivist at Pixar Animation Studios (2008-10) before moving to founding archivist of the Labor Archives of Washington (LAW), at the University of Washington, where I curate collections and direct activities (2010-Present). Here, I developed a holistic, EDI-centered, collaborative community documentation and archival administration strategy called “corrective collecting”.  I developed and taught a for-credit class “Lessons in Leadership and Courage: Labor, Social Justice, and Civil Rights Activist History through the Lens of Primary Sources.” I had the great honor of attending Archives Leadership Institute in 2014 and attended DigCurr in 2015. 

Between  2012-21, I served several terms as co-chair of the Society of American Archivists’ Labor Archives Section (LAS), vice president of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (2017-20), and president of the Northwest Historians Guild (2014-16). adoption of new bylaws 

Roundtable/Section Service

It was a pleasure serving as Labor Archives Section Co-Chair in 2011-2013, 2013-2015, and 2016-2018. In my terms, I coordinated our roundtable’s adoption of bylaws to ensure our compliance with SAA council policy, spearheaded an investigative effort to determine the viability of a topical cross-repository labor collections search portal, enhanced access to our updated Labor Archives Section Directory: Labor Archives in the United States and Canada by helping to update the PDF document and host it on the Labor Archives of Washington website.  I later migrated the directory into an online format and created a labor repository map and made regular updates. More recently, I was a member of the LAS Section working group that undertook a major project to revamp, expand, and update the directory. 

Some of the process of doing that evolved out of structures and workflows the Labor Archives of Washington created as part of a regional records survey of the Pacific Northwest.

Other projects to increase LAR’s visibility in SAA and in our researcher community included initiating and acting as editorial coordinator of a regular LAR-branded column in Labor Online in the online newsletter of one of greatest researcher stakeholder organizations, the Labor and Working Class History Association. As well, I helped coordinate several LAR-related sessions at LAWCHA’s 2014 conference as well the 2017 LAWCHA conference in Seattle  (which highlighted the projects of the Labor Archives of Washington) and in 2021 to explore the possibility of a LAS/LAWCHA working group that would look at potential alignments for closer collaborations.. 

In 2017, 2018, and 2019,  the Labor Archives Section had labor archivist retreats at the North American Labor History Conference. Several sessions were organized by LAS members, and I chaired LAS-branded sessions at NAHLC in 2018 and 2021.

SAA Program Sessions/LAS Annual Business Meeting

For four of the years I was co-chair of LAR, we had section member programs on the main SAA program that emphasized the dimension of labor collections in the archival enterprise. The sessions emphasize the intersection between labor, civil rights, and social justice collections. In my role as chair of three of those sessions, I pursued a strategy of drawing in as many LAS members as presenters as possible to showcase the diverse and interesting work of our section members and allow for broad participation of all of our good work. Those efforts were also aimed at ensuring LAS was visibly active and robust at a time when SAA Council was discussing doing away with smaller or inactive roundtables. With my co-chairs during my three different terms of service, Traci Drummond, Meghan Courtney, Catherine Powell, Robin Walker, and Ben Blake; I helped coordinate Section meetings at SAA, recruiting speakers to complement our annual business meeting. I also helped co-admin the Labor Archives Section Facebook group, which is a resource for posting our projects and collections. This has been taken up by our Communications Committee in recent years. 

Thanks for considering my nomination!