Waldo Gifford Leland Award: Ellen Gruber Garvey

Ellen Gruber Garvey, an English professor at New Jersey City University, is the 2014 recipient of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award for her book, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, published by Oxford University Press. The Waldo Gifford Leland Award is given for writing of superior excellence and usefulness in the fields of archival history, theory, and practice.  

Writing with Scissors provides an engaging narrative on the role of newspaper clippings scrapbooks as archival records that transcend lines of race, politics, gender, and class. Garvey contextualizes the keeping of these scrapbooks as a way for marginalized people to tell their history. As scrapbook makers reused free books and blank scrapbooks to create and manage their own personalized texts, they claimed ownership of their reading matter and constructed counter-narratives to their portrayals in the press. By reading scrapbooks against new technologies for managing newsprint, Garvey encourages archivists to view scrapbooks as “direct ancestors of digital information management.”

The Award Committee noted that the book is “compelling, well-written, well-researched, and supported by thoughtful examples that illuminate how scrapbooks function as democratic archives.”

Established in 1959, the Waldo Gifford Leland Award is named for one of North America’s archival pioneers and SAA’s second president. Past recipients include Astrid Eckhart for The Struggle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War; Francis X. Blouin and William G. Rosenberg for Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives; and Laura A. Millar for Archives: Principles and Practices.