Friday, August 23, 2013

Beth Ann and her 2013 SAA annual meeting in New Orleans

August means that sweating archivists from academia, government, historical societies, museums, and non-profits come together for the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists. I lived in New Orleans from 1999-2001 while attending the University of New Orleans for an MFA, and had not been back there since. I was eager to see the city again while at the same time really dreading the humidity.  Thanks to the freakishly cool weather patterns, it was humane enough to venture outside the conference hotel to meet up with my old friends po'boys, beignets and cafes au lait, muffalettas, raw oysters, and seafood gumbo.

When I wasn't eating, I spent a lot of time networking with other archivists who work with women's collections, military collections and oral history collections.  I am very motivated to bridge these different worlds and work to break out of the silos archivists of specialized collections can find themselves in.

Tuesday August 13:

After throwing my suitcase into my hotel room, I took a taxi uptown to attend the pre-conference Women’s Archives/Women’s Collections:  What does the Future Hold at the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University. Newcomb college was the women's college for Tulane, and I really enjoyed looking at the archival exhibits at Newcomb.  I had the opportunity to network with a lot of great women and swap some business cards!

Here's what I learned:
The Impact of Technology on Women’s Archives and Collections— Born-Digital, Digital Humanities, Digital Initiatives, and Social Media
Presenter: Leslie Fields (Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College)

Documenting Diverse Communities
Presenters: Danelle Moon (Special Collections, San Jose State University; Kelly Wooten (Sallie Bingham Center, Duke University); Courtney Dean, Stacy Wood, and Angel Diaz (together discussing the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive at UCLA); Natalia Fernández (Oregon State University Libraries)

Women’s Collections Roundtable Dinner: A Celebration of our History 
Presenters: Elizabeth Novara (University of Maryland), Alexandra Krensky (History
Associates), Lucinda Manning (Independent Archivist), Fernanda Perrone (Rutgers University), Tanya Zanish-Belcher (Wake Forest University)

Wednesday August 14:

Wednesday was "military day". I went on a repository tour to meet the curators and was shown behind the scenes at the WWII museum (  If you look closely at the url, you will notice a telling clue about the museum's history. Originally, begun as the D-Day museum, Congress re-designated it to be about all U.S. involvement in WWII instead of just 6/6/1944.  The museum's holdings include a lot of REALLY LARGE OBJECTS such as planes, boats, jeeps and tanks. The curators told me that they collect everything except live ordnance and human remains, and that they also cannot fit any more Nazi flags into the collections.  I spoke to the curators about the WVHP and business cards were exchanged.

I also took a short tour about a PT boat restoration (
Later that day was the Military Archives Roundtable (MART) meeting. This is a new roundtable just getting off of the ground and I am part of the small social media and newsletter committees.
To continue the networking after the meeting, I joined the other MARTs at Mulate's, a cajun restaurant. More business card swapping.

Thursday August 15:
Thursday was "Oral History Day" as well as taking in a few instructional sessions. I attended the Oral history section networking brown-bag lunch and then oral history section meeting. Networking and card swapping ensued.

Hurricane Katrina: Disaster Recovery and Documentation in Archival Collections. Hurricane Katrina serves as a prism for examining a variety of archival issues. Subjects discussed included disaster recovery inside an affected repository; development of a large-scale digital collection preserving firsthand accounts, images, blogs, and podcasts; and management of constituent case files in congressional papers.

Lights, Camera, Archives! Working with the Media and Moviemakers
This session features archivists who have worked with documentary filmmakers, worked with television or movie productions, or made a media appearance. Each presenter briefly describes her or his repository’s holdings, the project/issue that is relevant to this topic, and one lesson learned.   (This was a very useful session for me as I have worked with filmmakers using the WVHP  as well as having been interviewed for television.)

And then was the Exhibition Hall opening/Happy Hour where I asked my new friend Ivan the Danish collector of books and ephemera on human sexuality to post for a photo with me. I'll network (a.k.a. schmooze) with anyone.

Friday August 16:
The first order of the day was locating the Ignatius G. Reilly statue on Canal Street (See the classic novel A Confederacy of Dunces).                                                                                          

After that victory was the session Advancing the Ask: Proactive Acquisitions for the Modern Age
The panelists share actual experiences from archivists who work to proactively identify, appraise, and acquire archival materials. They explain strategies and successes in reaching out to donors who are not necessarily cognizant of their role as record creators or of the value of their records to an archives. How can archivists educate donors and use new techniques and tools to gather evidence of  significant events and changes in their communities?

The rest of the day was "Women's Collections Day #2". I met with other members of  the Women’s Collections roundtable and worked to develop a session idea for women’s collections of traditionally male fields. More business cards.

Friday night was the all-attendee reception at Boeing building at WWII museum.

The night (and conference) was capped off by experiencing Dr. "Gris Gris" John at Tipitinas!

Saturday August 17:
The last (EARLY morning) session before catching the plane home was Thinking Beyond the Box: How Military Archivists are Meeting 21st Century Challenges.
James Ginther of the Marine Corps University examines innovative approaches to documenting military operations when traditional records retirement methods fail. Anthony Crawford from Kansas State University focuses on the relevance of military archives addressing the multidisciplinary research value of military collections. Joel Westphal from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management addresses the issues of processing the massive amounts of digital records from the war in Iraq using innovative management and processing techniques on an archives of national importance.

My hope is to use my contacts, both new and old, to promote the WVHP within all of the various archival communities it represents.


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