Zanish-Belcher Responds to Chronicle of Higher Education Article

August 1, 2018—In a letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education on August 1, SAA President Tanya Zanish-Belcher responds to “The Delicate Art of Dealing with Your Archivist” by Alice Dreger. She notes:

“In the article ‘The Delicate Art of Dealing with Your Archivist’ (July 29 Chronicle), Alice Dreger attempts a humorous look at archives professionals by reducing us to six caricatures who variously impede researchers’ use of historical records.

“(Stereo)typing can be funny. But it can also spread misinformation, especially in this case as it concerns an important collegial relationship. Having worked in the profession for 30 years and served in a variety of leadership roles for the Society of American Archivists, I can say that I know a lot of archivists. And a good number of researchers. Heaven knows that we might prepare an equally amusing article about researcher (or historian or academic) “types.”  But because we agree with Ms. Dreger’s own statement on her website—“I’m always working to find out what’s true in the hope it will lead us to treat each other better”—we’ll resist that temptation.

“In Dreger’s spirit of finding out what’s true, here’s something essential to know about archivists:  We are passionate stewards of the collections we keep, and we are committed to providing access to the records in our care and assisting researchers in discovering records that are relevant to their projects. We are your allies in the stacks, and all of us—researchers and archivists alike—are on the same side.”

Tanya Zanish-Belcher
President, Society of American Archivists
Director of Special Collections and Archives
Wake Forest University