In this heightened time of social injustice, librarians, archivists, and curators are collaborating with communities and organizing groups to select and preserve materials related to the uprisings and Covid-19 in real-time. However, a lack of communication may lead to a disconnect between the records and items archivists choose to historicize and the materials valued by the creators themselves. With the move towards both critical information literacy and community-centered archives, cultural heritage and information professionals have been called to further interrogate our role as collectors and catalogers of materials. We know that the preservation and description of objects, records, and ephemera ascribe historical meaning, are culturally bound, and impact understanding beyond our lifetime. As such, archivists have a responsibility to work with intentionality. Using examples from my personal archival experience, from my work as a Blackivist and from the work of other cultural heritage professionals I will highlight the ways we can contribute to social justice in archival work by practicing an ethics of care, considering environmental concerns, responsibly documenting marginalized communities and showing radical empathy.
Tracy S. Drake (she/her) is an archivist, historian, researcher and co-founder of the Blackivists, a collective of trained Black memory workers who provide expertise on archiving and preservation practices to communities in the Chicagoland area. She is the inaugural archivist at Reed College, focused on acquiring, preserving, and providing access to the historical and cultural records of the college. As an information professional, Tracy strives to provide equitable access to the counter stories of the Black experience thereby challenging the dominant narratives present in many U.S. archives. She believes collecting such counter stories, confronting difficult topics in our collective historical record and encouraging community archival practice is a tool to counteract the symbolic annihilation of histories of people of color.
A graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a BS in African American Studies, an MA in history from Roosevelt University, and an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2018, she was chosen as a member of the American Library Association class of Emerging Leaders. She currently serves as the Co-chair for the Archivists and Archives of Color section of the Society of American Archivists. Her scholarship and research interests include radical empathy, Black cultural heritage preservation, community archives and African American history.
Monday, May 10 at 3:00 pm Pacific
Online for all registered conference attendees. Learn more and register here.