Raising Archival Awareness in a Regional Studies Organization: The Appalachian Studies Case

Please join Liz Harper and Gene Hyde for this presentation, which was originally scheduled for SNCA last March. Please contact Gene Hyde, ghyde@unca.edu, if you have any questions. 

Thursday, September 24, 12 - 1 PM

Via Zoom - please register at this link to attend this Brown Bag: https://unca-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwsc--qqTIpGdMkQhdBB4mJVe7Pkh3uRiTi

"Raising Archival Awareness in a Regional Studies Organization: The Appalachian Studies Case"

Gene Hyde, Special Collections, and Liz Harper, NOAA Center for Environmental Information

This presentation describes how archivists led efforts to create a Special Collections Committee in the Appalachian Studies Association, as well as the Appalachian Curator, a newsletter highlighting the variety of archival collections in southern Appalachia. The Special Collections Committee was created to explore historical and current initiatives and programs and provide a forum for news and information about Appalachian archives. These efforts provide a model for increasing archival awareness in interdisciplinary or regional professional organizations.  This presentation was originally accepted for the 2020 Society of North Carolina Archivists Conference last March at Elon University, which was cancelled due to COVID.

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J-SNCA call for papers

J-SNCA is a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to support the theoretical, practical, and scholarly aspects of the archival profession. The editorial board of J-SNCA invites members of the research and archival communities to submit articles for a general issue on archival topics to be published in the Winter of 2020/2021. Focuses on archival methodology, metadata, collecting practices, outreach, and rethinking the goals of archival work in our current age, especially considering COVID-19 and the national conversation on efforts towards anti-racism, are all welcome.

The deadline for article submission is October 16, 2020. All members of the archival community, including students and independent researchers, are welcome to submit articles. If you were slated to present at the cancelled 2020 Society of North Carolina Archivists conference you are particularly encouraged to submit a paper based on your presentation. Contributors need not be members of Society of North Carolina Archivists or live in the state of North Carolina. Article proposals are welcome and encouraged.

Submission guidelines can be found at http://www.ncarchivists.org/publications/journal-ofthe-society-of-north-carolina-archivists-j-snca/manuscript-submission-guidelines/

Submission contact: kmerryman@unc.edu

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Charlotte’s new presence on Google Arts & Culture

Contributed by Tyler Cline

UNC Charlotte Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, along with 12 other local museums, galleries, and cultural institutions, has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to launch Charlotte on Google's global platform. Atkins' contributions include images and stories from the historic Boyer postcard collection, Black history from the Alexander family and Julius Chambers papers, and early UNC Charlotte images featuring founder Bonnie Cone.

“We are thrilled to showcase Charlotte’s rich culture, history of innovation and thriving art scene for everyone to explore online at Google Arts & Culture,” said Simon Delacroix, U.S. Lead of Google Arts & Culture. “From its fascinating museums to its delightful culinary scene to its achievements as a business hub, Charlotte is captivating. Thanks to our 13 local partners, the world can go to one virtual  destination to experience this outstanding city.” 

Charlotte is the first city in the American south and third in the U.S. to be featured in Google Arts & Culture’s global initiative to capture and share the unique culture of cities. Along with Kansas City and Milwaukee, Charlotte joins European cultural hubs on the platform including Milan and Naples, Italy, Lyon, France, and Hamburg, Germany.

Charlotte arts & culture logo

Google Arts & Culture Charlotte partners in this project include: the Mint Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), Levine Museum of the New South, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Arts & Science Council, Atkins Library at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Goodyear Arts, Carolina Raptor Center, Charlotte Symphony, and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Of these partners, Atkins Library is the sole archival repository.

The Charlotte site can be found at g.co/explorecharlotte.

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From the Collection of the New Hanover County Public Library

Contributed by Travis Souther

Born in Wilmington on March 17, 1915, Claude Flynn Howell was a natural artist from a young age. Reportedly, some of his childhood illustrations of the balcony and proscenium arch in Thalian Hall were used during the restoration of that antebellum building. During his summer breaks, he took trips to Rockport, Maine, and Woodstock, New York, where he studied with prominent painters and artists of the time. He graduated from high school in 1931 and longed to attend art school but was unable to pursue a classical art education due to the Great Depression. Instead, Howell worked for the Wilmington-based Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Despite not being able to attend art school, his job with the ACL was not terribly difficult and allowed him to continue to pursue his passion.

In 1937, one of his paintings was accepted in the North Carolina Association of Professional Artists’ first juried exhibition. One of his paintings titled Winter Landscapes was accepted in the third North Carolina Artists' Annual competition, winning the artist the Purchase Award from International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) along with $200.00. His early successes enabled him to have a place as an exhibitor in the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. Just a year later, Howell became the first North Carolinian to have his work displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A prolific painter, Howell’s works were characterized by flat, brilliant colors that centered on fisherman, fishing boats, and seascapes. His works also had sharply-defined shapes and edges.

Howell’s influence was not only given to destinations far away but was most especially felt here in his hometown. From 1960 to 1981, he taught at Wilmington College (now UNC-Wilmington). The classes that he taught were the inspiration for the creation of an Art Department, for which he was later the director. A 1995 exhibition of his work at the St. John’s Museum of Art, now known as the Cameron Museum of Art, was the last exhibition of his work before his death. At about the same time, an hour-long documentary about the artist and the places that he depicted was shown on UNC-TV. For his contributions to the world of art, he was colloquially known as the “Dean of North Carolina Painters.” Though he never had a college education, Howell did receive honorary doctorates from both UNC-Wilmington and Wake Forest University.

photo of Howell's apartment

The 1981 image seen above shows the then 66-year-old artist in his home at Carolina Apartments on 5th Avenue. Behind him are several pieces of his art showing scenes from around Wilmington including the State Port, the New Hanover County Courthouse, and St. James Episcopal Church.

Although Howell traveled around the world visiting some two dozen countries by his reckoning, Wilmington remained his home for his entire life. He remained a significant figure in the local art scene until his death in 1997. Copies of Howell’s journals can be accessed through the Local History Room at the downtown branch of the New Hanover County Public Library. A washboard that came from Howell’s home is part of the collections at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.

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Project Management for Archivists

Kelly Spring, Access Archivist & Head of Digital Curation for the Special Collections Department at East Carolina University, has recently written a handbook, Project Management For Archivists: Befriending Your Backlog.

Stymied by the amount of material in your backlog? Wondering where to start? Project Management for Archivists offers simple, step-by-step instructions on taking control of your inventory. From archival accessioning to handling born-digital collections, the methods in this little handbook will help you systematically master your work. You will learn from a seasoned archivist and project manager how to create inventories, define baseline standards, and develop useful documents to track progress. Best of all, examples of checklists and workflows are included for easy reference. This is one resource that any archivist will want to keep close at hand.

You can find this little gem in ECU's institutional repository, The ScholarShip.

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Student Spotlight: Derek Whisnant

My name is Derek Whisnant. I’m currently a senior nearing the end of a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at UNC Asheville. Beginning my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to work as an assistant in UNCA’s Ramsey Library Special Collections. Over the past two years, I have been fortunate to work alongside Head of Special Collections Gene Hyde, and Assistant Archivists Colin Reeve and Ashley McGhee Whittle, each of whom have provided me with meaningful work, mentorship, and guidance. 

Derek Whisnant photo

stacks photoDuring my time working at UNCA Special Collections I was able to work on a variety of different projects which exposed me to various archival principles, thought processes, and considerations involved in archival work. The work I am most proud of at UNCA Special Collections was accessioning manuscript collections from two influential figures in Asheville’s history: E.W. Grove and F.L. Seely. Through working on these collections I learned a great deal about how to approach and think about organizing and cataloguing materials. I was able to work through the entire process, from ensuring proper storage in archival-grade materials, to various levels of description, writing scope and content summaries, and entering metadata into our archival software. It was a fulfilling experience to see boxes of materials go from their original donated condition to a fully accessible and organized format for use by the public in the future. I was also afforded opportunities to work on a few other research and writing projects, digitizing materials, and I have also started on a project with Gene which entails cataloguing repositories of archival materials relating to Southern Appalachia to be published as a resource in the Appalachian Curator newsletter in the near future. 

reading room photoSeeing the ways in which Gene, Ashley, and Colin enthusiastically participate in their professional circles, guide students in conducting research, fill information requests from the public, and contribute meaningfully to their school and larger community made me aware of the critical public service which archival work entails. When I started working at UNCA Special Collections, I had the intention of finishing my Psychology degree and moving into social work, therapy, or another public-facing application. Through this experience however, my plans have changed substantially. I intend to move towards an MLIS program after finishing my undergraduate studies at UNC Asheville with the hope of making information more accessible to more groups, particularly underserved communities. I am even more aware now of just how many ways a library and an archive participates in and supports its community, and I eagerly look forward to continuing my participation in such an effort.

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Meet your Member At Large: Courtney Bailey

Courtney Bailey headshotWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
During the summer between my years at SILS, I served as a Graduate Assistant in Technical Services at Wilson Library, processing the records of the UNC Athletics Department. Since June 2014, I have worked as a Records Management Analyst at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC).

What is your educational background?
I have an undergraduate history degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Duke University. After many years teaching in a public high school in Durham, I decided I needed a new intellectual challenge, so I got an MSLS degree (with a concentration in Archives and Records Management) from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC Chapel Hill.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
I love teaching workshops. Because of my teaching background, I’m definitely comfortable determining learning outcomes and designing content and presenting material. But I especially like the before and after times of workshops. If the room arrangement allows for it, I usually try to walk around the room before the workshop so I can greet participants individually and distribute handouts. I also try to hang around after the workshop to answer any questions that people didn’t want to raise in front of the entire group. I find these more informal opportunities to talk with folks are very useful in helping identify the roadblocks they’re encountering in carrying out their records management tasks and have helped spark a number of the resources I’ve developed over the years.

There are a lot of people tasked with records management in various government agencies who have no training or support to carry out these duties. Some work in tiny offices and some work in huge agencies, and the amount of resources available (both financial and human) varies tremendously. So I think a vital part of my job is readily answering questions – be it about public records requirements or how best to organize files – without ridicule or reprisal. This can take the form of anything from answering a question posted to a listserv to visiting a file room to appraise historical records.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
While working at SANC, I’ve had the pleasure of completing two huge scheduling projects. In 2015, a colleague and I in the Records Analysis Unit were tasked with revamping the records retention schedules for state agencies using the model of functional analysis. The beginning of the project involved a lot of research – both into the theory of functional analysis, into the handful of states that employed some flavor of functional schedules, and into the practical powers and responsibilities of state agencies around North Carolina. Once we’d identified what functions are fulfilled by state agencies, we then began writing retention schedules to specify the disposition of the various records being created and received by them. When my colleague left for greener pastures, I picked up the flag and completed the project for a December 2017 launch. Along the way, I had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds of stakeholders from state agencies and learning from them about the work they do and the records they manage. Although it hasn’t been without bumps, more than three years into the use of this functional schedule, I definitely consider it a success. Around the same time, I also started working with representatives from the UNC System campuses to update their decade-old retention schedule. Although I wasn’t able to meet in person with these stakeholders, the records officers with whom I work were able to connect me with folks who could answer questions and help me produce a much more reliable and up-to-date retention schedule.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Get work experience by any means necessary. Coming from an academic background, I thought that grades and the prestige of the institution you attend matter on a job application, but what I’ve found in the archives realm is that work experience is what opens doors. So although you have to get the degree (because even most entry-level positions require a master’s degree), you need to make sure you spend time during grad school getting experience in the field in which you hope to work.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
In my training as a teacher, I learned that reflection is a vital part of improvement. I have found Scott Cline to be a voice in the archival literature that helps me think about why I’m doing the work that I do. Mark Greene played an even greater role in shaping my professional outlook. He consistently demonstrated in his articles and presentations a willingness to review and revamp archival practices rather than being cowed by the argument of “but this is how we’ve always done it.” When I was working on my master’s paper, Mark offered his time to assist me in my research about born-digital records. Of course, I had already read his seminal work on “More Product, Less Process,” so I was awed to have the opportunity to interview him. He spent nearly an hour on the phone with me discussing his work at the American Heritage Center and providing information on their policies and workflows for appraisal, processing, and access for born-digital records. I later had the opportunity to work with his wife, Kathy Marquis, and learned that helping new archival professionals was one of his greatest pleasures. Greene evidenced a passion, commitment, thoughtfulness, and creativity to his work, coupled with a desire to mentor others in the archival realm. I consider him a great model for how to do archival work well.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I serve as the Member At Large responsible for being a liaison with the Regional Archival Associations Consortium that operates through SAA. As such, I’m responsible for passing along to SNCA members relevant information from our fellow regional organizations, such as conference announcements and releases of professional resources. But more importantly, I want to serve as a conduit for what works. All of us are too busy to reinvent the wheel, so I want to figure out what other organizations are already doing that could serve to heighten the relevance and impact of SNCA.

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Meet your Member At Large: Ashley McGhee Whittle

Aashley McGhee headshotWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I first went to work in an Archival position when I accepted the Archives and Curatorial Assistant position at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I worked there for one year and then had the opportunity to return to work in the History Department at UNC Asheville, my Alma Mater. After a year as the Department Assistant, I then applied and accepted the position of Special Collections and Assistant Archivist in Ramsey Library's Special Collections at UNC Asheville.

What is your educational background?
I hold my BA in History from UNC Asheville. As an undergraduate I completed three internships and then a special project through a grant in Ramsey Library Special Collections. I am currently working on my MLIS with UNC Greensboro with an Archival concentration. Prior to obtaining my Bachelor's degree, I held my nursing license (LPN) in the State of North Carolina for ten years.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is two parts. First, I love processing collections. We hold some really unique collections at UNC Asheville, including several on environmental history and environmental groups in Western North Carolina.  I have a minor in environmental studies at UNC Asheville and am an avid outdoor junkie. One of my favorite collections to process was my special project as an undergraduate, where I processed the John Brown Lands Speculation Collection and worked with documents and maps dating from the early 1700s! I also got to work directly with the donor, which left a lasting positive impression on me. I also love getting into the history and stories from these collections–they are so interesting! Second, my other favorite part of my job is teaching the undergraduate students that we have throughout the semester. We often have several History, Literature, and First-Year classes where we teach classes of students everything from a basic introduction to Special Collections and researching primary sources, to the History of Urban Renewal in Asheville. This is also what I consider the most important part of my job–teaching the importance of this material to our undergraduate students and helping them make discoveries within these collections. It's also nice when students become so interested in Special Collections that they then decide to complete an internship with us and after "drinking the Archival Kool-Aid" make the decision to go on and become an Archivist.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I am particularly proud of several things–but two of the most recent things that come to mind are that I had one History intern and one student worker who is majoring in Psychology last year who have both decided to get their Master's in Library Science and go to work as Archivists. I worked directly with and helped mentor both of these students, and I am so excited that they have decided to become Archivists! Second, I was able to connect with the Environmental Studies Department on campus last semester, and we hosted our very first Environmental Class in Special Collections. This class was on Environmental Restoration, and we were able to connect students with various collections to help with their semester long projects on restoring environments in Southern Appalachia. COVID interrupted our in-person classes with them, but I'm hopeful that we will be able to collaborate more with this Department in the future!

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Find a mentor! Having a mentor in this field is key. They can help guide you in all aspects of getting into an Archival career, from internships, to education, to jobs. And when you are taking classes at the Master's level, take as many related to exactly what you want to do–for example, I am taking most of my classes for my MLIS related to Special Collections and Archives. Making connections are key in this field!

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I have had three significant mentors since I returned to school and obtained my Bachelor's degree and then went to work in the Archives. The first was Dr. Ellen Pearson in the History Department at UNC Asheville. She was the mentor who made me realize how successful a woman can truly be–and this was significant for a first-generation, Southern Appalachian woman returning to college at a non-traditional age (I was 29 when I returned to school). Second was Dr. Daniel Pierce, also of the History Department at UNC Asheville. He was the mentor who made me realize that what I had to say was important, both in class and in the World, and that because I was a native Appalachian and a woman, my voice was more important than ever. Finally, Gene Hyde, Head of Special Collections at UNC Asheville. Gene mentored me as an undergraduate but does even more now as my supervisor and colleague. Gene has improved both my writing and speaking skills, he continues to help me develop my Archival skills and encourages my educational endeavors, and he challenges me on a daily basis regarding what I believe and what I have to say, always wanting to know the rationale behind my reasoning. He has not only made me a better Archivist, he has made me a better human being.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
My plan as Member-at-Large, new professional/student member, is to continue to cultivate the connections SNCA has with colleges and universities across North Carolina. I also hope to continue to add to these connections and have started working on adding contacts from some of the smaller and/or private colleges and universities across the state. The future of SNCA belongs to the up and coming young Archivists just entering the field, and I consider it part of my responsibility in this position to ensure that SNCA is here to support these budding Archivists in all their educational and archival endeavors.

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SNCA Executive Board Statement on Black Lives and Archives

The Executive Board of the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) stands in support of our Black colleagues, friends, and communities.  We believe Black Lives Matter.  We condemn racism and police brutality.

We support the statements issued by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) https://www2.archivists.org/statements/saa-council-statement-on-black-lives-and-archives and the National Council on Public History https://ncph.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NCPH-Statement-on-the-Killing-of-George-Floyd.pdf. We call on the North Carolina archival community to reaffirm and commit to dismantling white supremacy and structural racism in archives, and beyond. As a profession we often collect, preserve, and disseminate collections created by marginalized peoples, organizations, and communities.  We must center oppressed standpoints through an ethic of care and privacy.  As the Council of SAA stated, we urge our community to support, learn, and boost “Black-led archival documentation efforts and memory-keeping organizations as we continue our collective effort to repair the legacy of structural racism and acts of state-sanctioned violence.”

What can we do as archivists to help effect change? We need to stop thinking of our institutions as passive, neutral spaces that document history and examine how our institutions fail to advance equity and justice.* Please consider reading and sharing these resources with your colleagues:

The Executive Board of the Society of North Carolina Archivists

June 3, 2020

 *Paraphrased from “The University Libraries’ Role in Reckoning with Systemic Racism and Oppression: A message from Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian Elaine L. Westbrooks.” (https://library.unc.edu/2020/06/the-university-libraries-role-in-reckoning-with-systemic-racism-and-oppression/)

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Maggie Murphy Named as Library Journal’s 2020 Movers and Shakers — Educators

Contributed by Hollie Stevenson-Parrish

Maggie Murphy headshotMaggie Murphy, first-year writing, visual art and humanities librarian and assistant professor for UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries, has been named as one of Library Journal’s 2020 Movers & Shakers — Educators. With this recognition, Murphy joins a distinguished group of librarians that are creating strategies to make libraries more inclusive for everyone while implementing ground-breaking approaches to literacy, learning, and teaching. Movers & Shakers is sponsored by Baker & Taylor and SAGE.

In 2019, Murphy launched the “Uplifting Memes” project in an effort for students in all disciplines to think about art and visual media as sources of information along with textual information sources. Participants learned about copyright and public domain, visual rhetoric, and more.

The project is the recipient of the 2019-2020 University Libraries Innovation and Program Enrichment Grant, and it is aimed at connecting students with library resources and spaces. At the same time, “Uplifting Memes” addresses critical, intersecting literacies that help students develop “transformative life skills necessary to be informed and engaged in society” and navigate “digital resources and content” (UNCG University Libraries Strategic Plan, 2018-19) through the theme of memes. Other University Libraries’ collaborators to the “Uplifting Memes” project include Brown Biggers, systems programmer, and Jenny Dale, information literacy coordinator and associate professor.

“Part of what makes this project so noteworthy is that it brings together information and visual literacy skills with a core focus on students as information creators,” said Dale. “Maggie has breathed new life into our information literacy program.”

Murphy holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Rutgers University and a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to joining UNCG, she served as a reference and instruction librarian at Georgia Highlands College, a visual resources curator at Queens College-City University of New York, and an evening and weekend reference librarian at St. Francis College.

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