The Association of Research Libraries/SAA Mosaic Program promotes much-needed diversification of the archives and special collections professional workforce by providing financial support, practical work experience, mentoring, career placement assistance, and leadership development to emerging professionals from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. ARL will recruit fifteen diverse students during three cohorts, which started in August 2013 and will conclude in May 2016. Read on to meet the enthusiastic, inquisitive, and passionate group of students in the 2014–2016 cohort.1 Micha Broadnax SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? MB: Like many in the field of archives, I have an appreciation for history. My narrative may possibly deviate the norm in that my interest in African American history has been a practice of self-care. Oppression and the silencing of lived experiences have unfortunately been present and continue to play a role in the documents that were created and now retained. A career in archives allows me to be proactive in working toward the preservation of documents created by marginalized and underrepresented identities. I envision archives as a tool for community engagement, essentially providing access to resources for empathy, healing, accountability, and empowerment. SAA: Where will you be completing your internship, and what work will you be doing? MB: I am completing my internship at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. I am gaining exposure to tools, roles, and processes. I am on an exhibit committee, aiding efforts to diversify the collections, as well as practicing my description and arrangement skills with single items and small collections. Next semester, I look forward to helping with donor relation efforts and strategizing around outreach initiatives. SAA: What is the best lesson you’ve learned thus far in your pursuit of becoming an archivist? MB: As I enter the profession, I am continually amazed that every collection that I have come across holds personal relevance. Even if the first impression may seem otherwise, I have formed connections with materials based on play manuscripts to day care activist. This journey thus far has confirmed that I love learning and there really is a universality to history and the human experience. Joanna Chen SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? JC: I first discovered archives and grew my passion for history at the University of California, Berkeley, through my courses in history and my research in oral histories and human rights. Following graduation, as an Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellow, I experienced firsthand the power of using original documents to connect to history as I walked through concentration camps and memorial sites. At the USC Shoah Foundation, I helped to create that connection to history for others through researching and identifying testimonies from the visual history archive for its educational Iwitness project. It was, however, the amazing privilege and honor of handling historical documents, photographs, artifacts, and artwork that survived destruction during the Holocaust as the archive and exhibit manager at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust that further solidified my desire to become an archivist. SAA: Where will you be completing your internship, and what work will you be doing? JC: I will be completing my internship at the University of Southern California Libraries’ Special Collections Department. I will be processing archival collections and creating finding aids through ArchivesSpace, listening to the USC Shoah Foundation’s collection of Nanjing Massacre testimonies to help determine additional controlled vocabulary terms that should be added to the thesaurus, providing reference services, and assisting special collections faculty in outreach and instruction. SAA: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? JC: I wish everyone knew the wealth of information that can be found and that is accessible to the public through archives. In general, archives seem to have a mysterious aura surrounding it, but in reality, it is a welcoming, open space that values information, preservation, and access and is staffed by incredibly helpful and knowledgeable archivists who can help you find the information you need. Adriana Flores SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? AF: When I started working in my undergraduate university’s library, the director said she was going to put me someplace interesting. She knew I planned on pursuing an MLIS degree one day, so she put me in the archives! Ever since, I’ve been enthralled by the stories and treasures contained within archives. SAA: Where will you be completing your internship, and what work will you be doing? AF: My internship is at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. I have been performing myriad tasks there, including processing, description, and working on digital exhibits. The best part of working at Gotlieb is exploring the breadth of their collections—I’ve touched a costume Robin Williams wore in Hook, seen pictures of concentration camps in Elie Wiesel’s collection, and read letters from Florence Nightingale. SAA: What is the best lesson you’ve learned thus far in your pursuit of becoming an archivist? AF: The best lesson I’ve learned so far in my studies and professional experiences is that every institution is different. I’m usually the type of person who likes to know what all the rules are and then play by them, but I’ve learned that things tend to be a little less rigid in archives. Learning the basics and theories behind archival practice is wonderful, but when it comes down to it, each repository has its quirks and you have to be adaptable. Harvey Long SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? HL: I decided to pursue a career in archives to preserve the legacies of marginalized populations. Archives should reflect society, not a wealthy minority. I am also interested in connecting local communities to archives. SAA: Where will you be completing your internship, and what work will you be doing? HL: I will be completing my internship at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) and University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison Archives. At WHS, I am digitizing oral histories from the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Graduate students collected the interviews in the 1960s. The clips will soon be available on the society’s website for greater access. At the university archives, I am building a website documenting the African American presence on the UW campus. SAA: What is the best lesson you’ve learned thus far in your pursuit of becoming an archivist? HL: Talk to people! Both seasoned and “newly minted” archivists may be able to offer a fresh perspective on unforeseen issues. Sara Powell SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? SP: While earning a master of arts in medieval studies degree, I had the opportunity to visit and use a couple archives in the United Kingdom. As much as I enjoyed interacting with primary documents from a researcher’s perspective, I realized that the behind-the-scenes work of the archivists I met actually appealed to me far more than a career as an academic. I’d previously worked as a student assistant at the university archives, so I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. SAA: Where will you be completing your internship, and what work will you be doing? SP: I’m interning at the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, and I’ll be working in archives and in rare books, which is a huge bonus for me. Currently, I’m working on item-level description of correspondence from the papers of MIT’s founder, William Barton Rogers, and I’ll also be helping create an exhibition based on special collections material. SAA: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? SP: I think there’s a misconception among young people that you have to be particularly intellectual, educated, and determined (perhaps a scholar ... Or a detective) to be able to properly use and understand archival collections. This might be true in some rare cases, but overall I wish that more people realized that archives cover every possible time period and most imaginable subjects; anyone can find them interesting, and, with a little help from an archivist, anyone can use them. Note 1 To learn more about the 2013–2015 cohort, see the “Someone You Should Know” features in the 2014 issues of Archival Outlook.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Meet+The+New+Mosaic+Program+Fellows/1914223/243618/article.html.