Archival Innovator Award: Foy Scalf

Dr. Foy Scalf, head of the Research Archives and Integrated Database Project Team at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, is the 2016 recipient of the Society of American Archivists' Archival Innovator Award. Established in 2012, the award recognizes archivists, repositories, or organizations that show creativity in approaching professional challenges or the ability to think outside the professional norm or that have an extraordinary impact on a community through archives programs and outreach. 

Prior to the work of the Integrated Database Project, the Oriental Institute faced challenges with the matter of information sharing about its collections, both internally and externally. The development of the Integrated Database, led by Dr. Scalf, brings together scholars, researchers, and internal and external staff and allows them unprecedented access to collections. Under Dr. Scalf’s leadership, approximately 15 student workers and volunteers have assisted in putting more than 850,000 records online pertaining to museum collections, research archives, museum archives, and photo archives. From troubleshooting technical issues to managing the content of the database and the interdepartmental staff to extending a vision for the project’s long-term goals, Dr. Scalf has developed an organizational culture around the project that makes it a core element of the Oriental Institute’s mission.

One supporter wrote that “Dr. Scalf and his team work tirelessly to maintain [the database] as a dynamic tool that is not only valuable for researchers and staff . . . but also for the ethos of stewardship, information sharing, and community building that the Oriental Institute upholds through its mission.”