New England Archivists Conference

Two really great sessions amidst a flurry of networking:

1) International colleagues representing the International Conference on Archives and their respective countries. Switzerland just passed a law that will help support “dangerous records” from being destroyed in their country of origin. All of Germany’s archivists study at the same school. Canada’s national archives associations are advocating for archives to be treated as not just important for future generations, but for building identity today. Israel’s official documents are processed into the archive within 3 years, decreasing the chance of losing important context information. The Netherlands are working on a national electronic depository. Norway is championing the combination of records management and archival techniques to smooth the transition of active records to archives.

2) College and High School Outreach programs: Colby-Sawyer and MYTOWN
both projects had student presenters participate in the session

A) COLBY-SAWYER COURSES, Kelli Bogan archivist
Purpose:
1) Rebuild college history (last history researched in 1937 for centennial)
2) Train researchers (current students) in using archival material

Class structure: Two seminar classes Junior then Senior year.
Year one
“History Detectives 101” Prof Randy Hanson: Process a small collection, intro to archives/information literacy
Year two
Research projects: 1) Create Virtual Exhibit 2) Simultaneous Oral History project Includes: in-class practice with a former CS college professor (80 years old and encouraging kids to ask follow-up questions); Group projects developing 15 min oral history interviews, used on Alumni weekend to gather information (called “guerilla interviews”)

Student Evaluation:

  • The Student presenters stressed they gained
  • Connection to college (even students not interested in archives)
  • Practical Research skills
  • Student expectations and interest is low at the start of the course, but grows with “touching” archives (in experiencing firsthand sources and in developing historical narratives)

NOTE: Alumni weekend materials contained information about project with a note that they should expect to be approached by students with buttons; permissions signed before interviews

B) MYTOWN
a 501(c)3 with the mission to connect students to Boston’s contemporary history: Hires high school students to learn about Boston, their hometown, and give history tours to public (paid tours). In 15 years of operation they amassed an archive of youth-authored materials. Future organizational goals – Current students teach next generation

NOTE: people interested in taking the tours from students generally already have some knowledge or interest in the subjects, forcing students to have deep knowledge

Student job description:
1) review, research, and share MYTOWN archives
2) develop a research question/ revive tours
3) document your family history
4) keep a daily blog of your research, tours, and photos

Example Subjects: bussing in boston (ending school segregation), Mel King (former major); Puerto Rican neighborhood Villa Victoria (resisted urban expansion)

Student evaluations: I learned the…
– ability to master a subject
– confidence, speaking skills, communication
– patience/flexibility in working with existing historical information
– empathy with other points of view
– “never stop asking questions”/love of learning
– develop your own opinion and be an advocate for that point of view (critical thinking/story development)
– glad to have an opportunity to learn local history

Also:
– formed institutional loyalty (future MYTOWN employees and advocates)
– forms socially responsible, thoughtful citizens with a life-long love of learning

Program structure:
– found an interesting item in the collections
– developed a research question
– archive research was followed with visits to locations relevant to the work
– researched subject outside archive by partnering with three university archives/libraries
– developed an online exhibit
– including an audio file where the student “speaks” as an inanimate object present at the event ie. A pen: “Mel King gripped the pen with frustration” (a school building in Bussing Boston, the ground at the Villa)

Comments are closed.