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The manuscript collection of YOU
Posted on August 12, 2010 by Deborah Kaplan | Categories: features | | 1 comment  Tagged:  , |

The rest of my department is off at the annual conference of the Society of American Archivists, and I’m sitting here watching the twitter hash tag #saa10 and getting all jealous. Which reminds me, we now have a twitter account: @dcatufts. I can’t promise we will be as entertaining or erudite as @FEMINISTHULK, but we’ll try.

I have a question for all of our earnest readers: do you ever worry about preserving any of your personal papers or ephemera? And if you do, what is the purpose? Is it just for your own happiness? Is it for your children? Is it because you need to retain the papers for legal or financial reasons? Do you think that you have items in your house that are of interest to scholars and historians?

I ask because I do, and I wonder how unusual this is. For example, I have a small set of family materials which tells something about the history of butchers in the Boston area, and I’m thinking of finding and archives to donate it to because I would rather the collection had utility for researchers than that it sat in a box in my house. So tell me, would you ever consider giving your papers to an archives if they had potential scholarly value?

(Incidentally, when I was looking for illustrations for this blog post, I came upon the fascinating Story of Nakohi-waa, Dance Drumming for Butchers. This transcript is part of Professor David Locke and Alhaji Abubakari Lunna’s in-progress project Dagomba Dance Drumming, which collects sound recordings, staff notation, and text materials on the dance drumming of the Dagomba people of northern Ghana.. The transcript I found came from Nakohiwa, the butcher’s dance.)