Waldo Gifford Leland Award: James Lowry

James Lowry, associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies and director of the Archival Technologies Lab at Queens College, City University of New York, is the 2023 recipient of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for the edited collection Disputed Archival Heritage, published by Routledge in 2022. The award is given for writing of superior excellence and usefulness in the fields of archival history, theory, and practice.

Disputed Archival Heritage is a landmark work useful for scholars and practitioners working within the fraught terrains of archival displacement, dispossession, repatriation, or shared heritage. Highlighting diverse cultures known on the map by geopolitical entities like Suriname or Namibia, as well as archives of places whose memory-keepers resist imposed toponyms, Lowry and nineteen contributors make clear why the physical, linguistic, and cultural placement of archives matters.

With excellent writing that is both readable and inclusive of personal experience, Disputed Archival Heritage is an engrossing book with a compelling set of messages on global archival cultures and the politics of place. One reviewer celebrated how this book “engages with international archival values in the spirit of mitigating harm, caring for collections ethically, and envisioning a new future of access, discovery, preservation, and care that is inclusive and equitable.”

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 Jason Lustig for A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, Cheryl Oestreicher for Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts, and Jean-Christophe Cloutier for Shadow Archives: The Lifecycles of African American Literature.