Archival History Section Chair’s Letter

Spring 2023

Greetings Members,

It has been a pleasure, though unexpected and thus sandwiched between so many other activities, that I returned this year as Section Chair. I did so in an SAA-approved suggestion and policy so as to give the Section some stability when our vice chair of 2021-2022, Rebecca Hankins, had a change in her professional responsibilities. We certainly miss her, but also thank her. I thank her formally here and also thank other steering committee members from the last year: Trevor Alford and Catie Sampson, as well as newsletter editor, and very active member of the Steering Committee and section, Eric Stoykovich. I feel privileged to have worked with all of you.

More on their work can be found in the annual meeting report found on this newsletter here.

At the annual meeting, we had several highlights. Two were in our speakers:
-Petrina Jackson, Lia Gelin Poorvu Executive Director of the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University;
-and Micha Broadnax, Project Manager, The Black Teacher Archives Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education Research.

Since that meeting, the Steering Committee for 2022-2023 (Dane Flansburgh continuing from work on the Steering Committee in 2022-22, as well as new members Katharina Hering, Collin Post, Natalie Worsham, and our Early Career member, Bernadette Birzer) have been busy with planning and hosting an annual lecture, completing a survey of membership (report to come in May), and beginning work for the annual award to be given in June 2023.

The lecture was our first, and was attended online by the amazing number of 160 people. The lecture featured our award winners from 2022: James Lowry and Riley Linebaugh (for their essay “The Archival Colour Line: Race, Records and Post-colonial Custody" that appeared in Archives and Records (vol. 43, no. 3). In the February lecture, Lowry and Linebaugh built on this work and shared progress about two related but distinct lines of enquiry related to Jenkinson, British archival thought and its role in global colonialism. Linebaugh historicized Jenkinson’s biography in reference to his 1912 article, “The Records of the English African Companies” and his participation in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program during WWII. Lowry detailed work to map an “imperial discourse network” and the afterlives of colonial archival hegemony by following Jenkinson’s 1948 memorandum to the colonies, which survives in state archives across the world. As critical enquiries into archival history, and particularly the intellectual history of our field, these interventions provided new context for the work of archival decolonization.

We again thank Lowry and Linebaugh.

Finally, we hope to see you in June at our annual meeting, June 19, at 12:00 eastern time. Look for an announcement on that coming up soon.

Most of all, know of our acknowledgement of your interest in archival history. We are so glad you have helped us, in the past month, particularly by the survey and in the attendance at the lecture, to learn more about how to promote this interest.

Best wishes, Susan

Susan Tucker
Chair, Archival History Section

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