Students and New Archives Professionals Statement on 'To Everything There is a Season'

With the publication of Frank Boles’ article “To Everything There Is a Season” in the Fall/Winter 2019 edition of American Archivist (sections of the issue are available online, print edition forthcoming in March 2020), the Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) section wishes to bring up some concerns regarding both the initial peer review process the article underwent, as well as the larger question of whose voices American Archivist chooses to uplift.

While we do respectfully disagree with the major points Boles argues in his article, of perhaps more concern are the more apparent issues within the peer review and selection process. Our first concern is how an article that contained missing and questionable citations, as well as misattributions and misunderstandings of others’ research, successfully made it through the peer review process and into preprint. Eira Tansey’s critique1 does an excellent job of analyzing the various issues that appear within Boles’ article -- issues that peer review is intended to catch. Christine Anne George, cited by Boles in “To Everything There is a Season,” discusses how Boles’s “sloppy take on scholarship,” enabled by the American Archivist editorial board caused her reputation and work to be called into question in her letter to the editor of American Archivist recently published online.2 Since the publication of George’s letter, she has shared on Twitter that Boles has, again, been given an opportunity to edit this article: 

American Archivist aims to welcome and reflect a variety of viewpoints and foster conversation within the profession. As such, we question the decision to uplift Frank Boles’ particular voice and opinion when this article was originally intended to be the “only one in the forthcoming issue of the journal directly on [the topic of inclusion, diversity, and social justice].”3 We encourage everyone to read Harrison W. Inefuku’s Letter to the Editor that places this article and the planned (and subsequently cancelled) Brown Bag Lunch to discuss it at SAA 2019 in the “greater context of systemic racism in academic publishing and scholarly communication.”4

American Archivist cannot claim to reflect a variety of viewpoints if it doesn’t actively work to uplift marginalized voices. Given the flawed scholarship of the article pointed out by members of the archival community, including those cited within the article, this series of events cannot help but to call into question for many of us the professional judgement of the American Archivist’s editorial board. We, the members of the Students and New Archives Professionals section steering committee, express our profound disappointment in the publication of “To Everything There is a Season”.

1Eira Tansey, “Peer review for archivists (or, WTF is going on with this SAA pre-print),” August 1, 2019,

2Christine Anne George, “Letter to the Editor,” American Archivist 82, no. 2 (2019),

3Cal Lee, “Editor’s Comments about Brown Bag Lunch Article Controversy at SAA Annual Meeting: Listening and Learning,” Off the Record, Society of American Archivists, September 11, 2019,

4Harrison W. Inefuku, “Letter to the Editor,” American Archivist 82, no. 2 (2019),