Last week was the Society of American Archivist’s annual conference. This year it was held in sunny San Diego where the fish tacos are plentiful, the weather was not the promised balmy 75 degrees, and playing spot the archivist among the tourists in the Gaslamp quarter was far too easy. Several staff members were able to attend this year, along with all of our graduate student workers. Although the DCA contingent was smaller than in previous years, we still had two session presenters.
Veronica Martzahl, records archivist
Lightning talk: Favorite Collaborative Tools in Preservation
Erin Faulder, graduate student worker
Session paper: Archival Practice Through a Social Justice Lens
At DCA, we graduate students perform a range of tasks related to processing collections and answering reference questions. As Simmons students, we are still learning what it means to be archivists and to do archival work. Attending conferences provides us with perspectives of our work beyond the classroom setting and beyond DCA’s environment.
Molly Bruce attended a session about addressing issues of privacy and confidentiality while providing access to legal records. Since she’s been processing a lawyer’s collection, the opportunity to hear how other archivists deal with the complex demands of opening records for access while protecting the privacy rights of individuals named in case files was invaluable.
Sarah Gustafson went to a donor relations lightning talk – a topic not covered in coursework but an important aspect of the work we do. Sarah also attended a session on outreach to undergraduate students which included talks by archivists who educate with primary sources and hire students to help with processing projects – two ways that DCA engages with undergraduate students at Tufts.
Erin Faulder presented her research as part of a panel on In Pursuit of the Moral Imperative: Exploring Social Justice and Archives. Being able to articulate the value of collections to social justice efforts is sometimes easy, such as in DCA’s recently processed papers of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Her paper examined two ways that social justice values are reflected in the hundreds of transactions documented by the records archivists work with every day.
Attending and presenting at sessions is only one way graduate students learn about the profession. We also attend planning meetings that shape the direction of the profession. Molly attended the Encoded Archival Description revision meeting where things got heated when discussing how the revision will structure data associated with relationships among collections, and between collections and their creators. As part of her collaborative efforts to form an Archivists without Borders organization, Erin met with other archivists interested in social justice to discuss the proposal thus far and future steps. These are all opportunities to meet other archivists who are passionate about the work we do, to bring back new information to apply to our work, and to geek out about the exciting possibilities for future endeavors.