Over the past three weeks of my internship, I have been working on something called “Push Lists”. Push Lists are an internal document that records the name of an interviewee, the date, the call number, the number of tapes, and the number of videos (if applicable). The purpose of creating these lists is to help the archive keep track of which interviews have been pushed from our old system, Dark Avalon, to the new one, MCO.
The last few years have been a very volatile time in regards to social justice. With movements like MeToo and BLM conversations about how we speak and write about others are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. When it comes to archival collections, especially ones that deal with social history, archivists and library professionals are engaging in expansive discussions about how to properly disclose the contents of their collections.
I have been asked by my internship supervisor to meditate on the idea of harmful language and how to justly handle it within our Oral History Archive. Personally I come from history background and I realize that my understanding is different than that of the average individual. What I mean by this is that I realize that while things that were said in 1818 were not okay, they were socially accepted. I also hold the truth that we should not judge a historical figure for what was said so long ago by our contemporary standards.
With all that being said I realize that regardless of the historical context, words are harmful and people should be warned when there is language within a collection that can be labeled problematic. Every person comes from a different background and comes to a collection with their own specific experiences and trama. Because of this, I think that all collections should have some kind of statement that expands upon antiquated and harmful language.
An example of one of these statements can be found here: Newberry
The Center for Documentary Research and Practice “is a multidisciplinary unit with The Media School at Indiana University that brings together scholars and artists from across Indiana University who are working on an array of nonfiction media projects”.
I am specifically working with the CDRP’s Oral History archive this semester! The archive was founded in 1968 by Oscar O. Winther in an effort to document IU history for the Sesquicentennial. But the potential for further research and documentation using oral history paved the way for the archive’s growth. 1981 the project director John Bodnar created a new official mission. The mission became “to preserve, collect, and interpret 20th-century history through the medium of first-person testimony. The center’s mission encompassed archival, pedagogical, and research goals in the field of oral history, with particular emphasis on the history of Indiana and the Midwest”. In 2002, the mission expanded to accommodate the growing field of memory studies. The archive then became part of the Center for Documentary Research and Practice in 2015.
I am so excited to learn more about archival work in the digital space and hopefully about oral history!!
Information was gathered from the linked sites within the post.
Hey Everyone!! My name is Anna Wilson and I am currently in my first year of the MLS program here at IU! I am originally from northwest Indiana and have my undergraduate degree in History from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
The purpose of this blog is to document my spring 2021 internship with the Center for Documentary Research and Practice’s Oral History Archive at IU Bloomington!
I hope that you join me as I embark on this new adventure!