Archives Month Series on History@Work

Filing cabinets with archival material.

Over the past couple of months I have been working with  History@Work affiliate editor Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan, and NCPH The Public Historian co-editor/Digital Media Editor Nicole Belolan to help pull together a month long series of posts about of archives and public history.

This series will be published throughout October (Archives Month in the United States). I’m super excited to see these posts go live as they discuss a huge range of archival work, public history work, and community center history making.

The first post in the series, “Fearless Education: Quaker values, collaboration, and democratized access at Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections” by Liz Jones-Minsinger went live this morning. Go read it and keep an eye out for new posts throughout October.

Image credit: By Daaarum – CC BY 3.0

Reclaiming Place Talks

This week I had the privilege of travelling to Thunder Bay to provide a public talk at the Thunder Bay Museum and speak with a Lakehead University archives class. Both talks focused on my work at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and the decades of work by the Shingwauk Survivor community.

Interested in learning more? Check out my slides from my “Reclaiming Place: Community History at the Shingwauk Site” talk at the museum and my more archives focused talk from my visit to Lakehead.

Preserving and Listening to Soundscapes

Closeup of a sound board

The BBC recently ran a podcast series called Forest 404. The podcast is set in a futuristic 24th Century, in a time after a massive data crash and in a era in which forests and much of the natural world no longer exist.

I initially started listening to Forest 404 because the protagonist is voiced by Pearl Mackie, who I loved in Doctor Who. The entire podcast is framed around archived soundscapes from the 21st century (know affectionately as the ‘Old World’ in the podcast).

The main character Pan is essentially a digital archivist who makes decisions about what sounds are worth keeping and which sounds get destroyed from the archive and the world’s memory.

The fact that this entire podcast intersects with climate, archiving, and science fiction make it worth listening to. For me, this podcast also made me think about broader archival efforts to document sounds and soundscapes.

Continue reading Preserving and Listening to Soundscapes

All The Project Updates

person carrying backpack inside library

It has been a busy Spring and as summer slowly drifts into view, I thought it would be appropriate to share a bit of the work I’ve been up to over the past few months. I am just going to be sharing high level updates but please feel free to reach out if you want more details about any of the projects mentioned.

Continue reading All The Project Updates

Archives Association of Ontario – Access & Digital Indigenous Archives

I had the opportunity to be part of the “Access & Digital Indigenous Archives” session at the Archives Association of Ontario Conference on May 9, 2019. I had the pleasure of presenting alongside Karyne Homes (Anishinaabe/Metis) of Library and Archives Canada.

My talk focused on the digital access work of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. It centered on showcasing the building of online spaces for community and using the principles of OCAP to guide archival practice. My slides and speaking notes from the talk can be found here.

Archival Practicum Projects

adventure begins mug sitting outside on rock with leaves nearby

I recently wrapped up teaching an Archival Practicum course. Students spent the term immersed in working with two sets of community heritage organization archives. This course built on archival theory the students learned previously and was designed to provide hands on skills. We did a lot of physical processing, had quality discussions about arrangement decisions, and tackled some basic preservation concerns.

One of the most rewarding parts of this class was seeing students execute their practicum projects. Each student designed an access or outreach initiative to ‘take archival records out of the archives.’

Continue reading Archival Practicum Projects

Tri-University Annual History Conference Keynote

Title slide for talk

I am delighted to share that I was the keynote at the Tri-University Annual History Conference on March 9, 2019 in Guelph.  The theme for this year’s conference was “In Small and Large Things Remembered’: Material Culture and History.” Continue reading Tri-University Annual History Conference Keynote

Teaching: Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives

Row of lit matches

As part of my Introduction to Archival Studies course I introduced the fantastic Identifying & Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives poster created by Michelle Caswell’s Archives, Records, and Memory Class in 2016.  Full details about Caswell’s practices for teaching about white supremacy in archives can be seen in her 2017 Library Quarterly article.  Likewise, the step-by-step instructions for her group exercise for teaching about white privilege are tremendously helpful for anyone looking to engage in a similar activity in their classroom.

I used this poster as a way in reinforce some of the conversations we had been having in class about inherent bias in archival systems and the relationship between archives and colonialism.  We read through the each of the privileges and actions identified in the areas of archival description, appraisal, access/use, professional life, and education.  I then asked students to reflect on what we had been learning about Indigenous knowledge keeping, Indigenous content in community archives vs. Indigenous content in Western archives, and the Canadian archival profession’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.  After individual and small group reflection students were asked to come up with new actions specific to the Indigenous/settler context which exists in the land currently known as Canada.

The dialogue inspired the poster included reflections on the need for Indigenous community driven archival practices, support for Indigenous language archival description, and the need for flexible access to archives based on Indigenous needs.  Discussion also focused on ways to dismantle barriers to archival access and possibilities for building better professional relationships.  We also talked about the potential of community based archival education opportunities and how access to education directly impacts the archival profession.

For me, this exercise was a way to build on the readings and lecture material students were engaged in about archives and colonialism.  The student response was positive with many of the students wanting to know more about the origins of the poster and looking to further their own understanding of the topic.

For folks interested in learning more about the importance of teaching social justice in the archival classroom here are some additional resources:

Photo credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash