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. Read on to meet the talented group of students in the 2015–2017 cohort. Crystal D. Paull University of Texas at Austin Internship host institution: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? It started for me when I was an undergraduate student in music taking music history courses. I remember learning how an archival discovery of a piece of music from a previously unknown composer, or an unknown work by a celebrated master, could completely reshape our idea of the progression of classical and popular musical styles throughout history. Later, after I added my second major in history, I took an African American history class that focused on gender and slavery. I had my first up-close experience with primary documents stored in the university archives and immediately fell in love. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? I wish people knew how valuable archives are to everyone, not just to historians and academics. There is so much for the public to learn from them, whether about their own personal history, their community, or society in general. Beside assessing, maintaining, and preserving archival materials, part of the job description of an archivist is to make them accessible to the public. If they were not valuable and important to all of us, then they would be kept under lock and key. JoyEllen Freeman Clayton State University Internship host institution: Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? In a way, I never really decided to pursue archives; archives pursued me. When I began my undergraduate career, my goal was to become an English teacher. I started working with projects such as the Civil Rights Digital Library and the Freedom on Film: Civil Rights in Georgia website, yet I soon discovered myself spending less time figuring out how to teach with these resources and more time studying the archives featured on the sites. I found myself examining roll after roll of microfilm in the basement of the university library and spending hours thumbing through rare books. I soon realized that the stories archives tell are important because humanity is important, and the victories, challenges, milestones, tragedies, and passions of individual people at various points in time are what make up history—not just the few, selected events that happen to make it into history textbooks. I knew I had to help preserve these stories and make them accessible for others to experience. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? I wish everyone knew that archives are everywhere. Often, when I tell people I am studying to be an archivist, they say, “Oh, so you’ll have to go to Washington, DC, and work at the Smithsonian or something.” Archives do not simply exist in select places we deem as historical. Wherever there are people, there are archives. Joyce Gabiola Simmons College Internship host institution: Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? I want to preserve the voices and experiences of marginalized, underrepresented communities and ensure a diverse representation in the American cultural and historical record. In striving to do so, I aim to engage and build trust with communities so they can directly participate and contribute to the preservation of their experience. In addition, I have a personal interest in unearthing the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex (LGBTQI) Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities in the South to share their stories and hopefully help to foster understanding and end isolation among their families and communities. As preserving cultural heritage and advancing social justice are intertwined, I hope that a career in archives will provide me with the opportunity to help. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? In addition to knowing that a wealth of information and stories exist in archives for everyone to learn and/or appreciate, I wish everyone knew the importance of archives. Their purpose is not only to serve researchers, academic institutions, business organizations, or governments. Ultimately, archives house evidence of our humanity (or lack thereof). Archives hold our histories, which inform the present, and perhaps provide hints of our future. Maria Fernandez University of Texas at Austin Internship host institution: Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? I first discovered archives through my coursework in history at Dartmouth College and my work as an archives assistant at Rauner Special Collections Library. During my three years at Rauner, I realized the importance of promoting the acquisition of archival material that represent diverse populations to minimize the detrimental effects of underrepresentation or misrepresentation in the archives. In my future career, I want to engage with archives in a practical sense, by actively diversifying and increasing access to underrepresented historical materials, but also on a theoretical level, by theorizing about the role archives play in preventing the perpetuation of dominant narratives and myths in scholarly research and collective public memory. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? Archives are inescapably political. As curators of the historical record, archivists are never neutral actors; instead, they are active civic participants who play a profound role in maintaining or disrupting the existing social order. Mohamed Haian Abdirahman University of Texas at Austin Internship host institution: Human Rights Documentation Initiative, University of Texas at Austin Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? I grew up listening to stories of my mother and grandmother’s experience living in Somalia prior to the civil war. My family gave me a picture of my homeland that I have yet to see mirrored in US cultural heritage spaces, leaving those who lack an empowering story of Somalia without an avenue to seek out intimate narratives that speak to themselves. I am training to be an archivist because I want to fill collection gaps around new immigrant populations, so that we, as a diverse but segregated nation of immigrants, can better access ourselves and the communities around us. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? I would like for it to be known that donating material to an archive does not mean it is lost to the record creator. I believe strongly in the ideals of postcustodialism, especially in regards to archives that serve underdocumented communities. Allowing for shared intellectual and physical authority over collections ensures that vulnerable populations have a strong say in how their records, and thus their histories, are managed. Hannivett Nabahe University of Arizona Internship host institution: University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? After working in the public library, I had been providing access to information for years. Archives, however, go one step further by taking in the stories that go on to become primary sources, allowing us to preserve the legacy of our communities. The collections currently stored, however, are seldom from the perspective of underrepresented and marginalized groups. Bringing those stories into the archives is as important as bringing attention to what is housed behind our walls. And because access can be challenging for certain groups, I am interested in finding ways to make our collections discoverable and appropriately accessible online. From endangered language materials to sacred knowledge and stories that give testimony to the voices we do not often hear, archives makes sure they all stay with us; I want to be part of that. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about archives? While archivists preserve the old, they also take in the contemporary, recording and preserving our current knowledge before memories fade. More importantly, archives hold the potential to connect community members who may not come in contact with each other otherwise. Archivists are responsible for earning and maintaining their communities’ trust.
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