Tag Archives: Minnesota Archives

Celebrating Archives and Archivists – A Minnesota perspective

Today – Wednesday October 5, 2016 – is Ask An Archivist Day!!! https://archivesaware.archivists.org/2016/09/06/ask-an-archivist-day/

In fact, the month of October 2016 is designated as National Archives Month. http://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/american-archives-month-the-power-of-collaboration

Recently, after a video interview with friend and retired University of Minnesota archivist, Richard Kelly, I posted these thoughts of appreciation: https://marytreacy.wordprehttps://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/association-of-american-archives/ss.com/tag/association-of-american-archives/ Recognition of National Archives Month prompts me to learn and share more about the range of archival resources in our community.

What follows opens the doors, though not the resources, of the state’s archives, repositories of written materials, photographs, memorabilia and a range of resources that inform and enrich our lives.

Minnesota Historical Society 

Though many of us have visited the Minnesota History Center we may not realize that the citadel on the hill is but one of the many sites operated by MHS. In fact, there are 26 sites, http://www.mnhs.org/visit. Each of these sites maintains archival resources related to the area and the focus of the individual site; each supports its own website, clickable from the MHS site.

A major program of the Minnesota Historical Society is the Minnesota State Archives: http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/records/ State Archives offer a wide range of resources including www.newspapers.com, a database the provides online access to 3000 historical newspapers dating from the early 1700’s to the early 2000

The Archives Facebook postings provide current info about programming, workshops and other learning opportunities.

University of Minnesota Libraries

The University of Minnesota Libraries is home to a host of archival collections that range from the Archives of the University itself to the Jean-Nikolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, the Givens Collection of African American Literature and the Guthrie Theater Archives.   For a full list of repositories and finding aids click here https://www.lib.umn.edu/special — or you might want to click on this useful starting point:

https://www.lib.umn.edu/special/using-archives-and-special-collections

The Twin Cities Archives Roundtable

One local network that will be celebrating National Archives Month is The Twin Cities Archives Roundtable (https://tcartmn.org) Founded in 1982 TCART (as the group is commonly known) includes archivists, curators, librarians, records managers and information specialists from government agencies, county and state historical societies, academic institutions, corporations and religious organizations. TCART will be holding its annual Minnesota Archives Symposium on Monday, November 14, at the Elmer L. Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota.

Are you harboring a tough question that only an archivist would love? Save it for October 27 when the Smithsonian Institute Archives is hosting “Ask an Archivist Day” http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/tag/archives-month.

To view the informative conversation with archivist Richard Kelly, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumRr08qkrc

BULLETIN:  A bit of local history: Later this week, on October 7, the National Archives will present a public program featuring the story of the nation’s first gay marriage, that of Minnesotans Jack Baker and Mike McConnell. The presentation is based on the archival record of the couple’s lengthy legal battle as recounted in their book The Wedding Heard ‘Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage. The program will be live streamed on the National Archives YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGVQfq8a6fY&feature=youtu.be

 

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Hail American Archivists – October is American Archives Month

Over the last few millennia we’ve invented a series of technologies – from the alphabet to the scroll to the codex, the printing press, photography, the computer, the smartphone – that have made it progressively easier and easier for us to externalize our memories, for us to essentially outsource this fundamental human capacity.                                                    Joshua Foer

 October 2013 is American Archives Month – a time to take note that Minnesota is “The Land of (nearly) 10,000 Archives.”   In case you haven’t visited your county historical society, public, government agency, corporate headquarters or university library, gallery or other citadel of learning lately, you might be surprised what’s happening behind the scenes in archives.   In countless institutions and communities archives are facing the challenges of the digital age.

In this information age, everyone expects to find information at the click of key.  Whether genealogical research, stories of the town or neighborhood’s history, the accomplishments of state leaders, business mergers or house history, we want to know what’s gone before.   The urge to dip into history, to build on what’s gone before, to understand our roots, is great.  The more we catch a glimpse the more we find ourselves lost in the pursuit of more information, stories, pictures, data, graphics, audio and visual recordings – our thirst for information is never quenched.

What’s often lost is recognition of what goes into the process of making that wealth of information accessible.  Because we see the technology on the output end of the information chain we credit the app, as if an inert tool can magically locate the needed crumb of information, then present it in living color on a hand-held device.

In fact, it is the unstinting work of archivists who, from the beginning of time, have identified, preserved, and organized the record of human kind, regardless of format, assuming that their meticulous efforts will bear fruit some day in the future.

What’s happening today is that, even as they continue their traditional role, archivists are meeting unprecedented challenges, including these:

Expectations – The challenge to archivists is to establish standards then design and introduce appropriate technologies to digitize and organize materials so that the record itself reaches the user at the moment of need.

Format – Information comes in an ever-expanding range of formats that require new standards and procedures for storage and portability, organizing principles and massive examination of archival basics.

Security/privacy – As everyone must know by now, when information is ubiquitous and the flow of data is fluid, it’s a new world for archivists.  Ask NSA.

Ownership – Information has become a commodity with economic value.  Archivists face unparalleled issues that have major implications for who owns what, who pays for and who gains from value added to raw information.  Access issues are particularly problematic for archivists whose purview is information that is classified as “public.”

Outreach – The work of archivists of no value unless and until the information they identify, organize and preserve is put to use.  Increasingly, the public wants to know how to get the records they know, or suspect, are out there somewhere.  [ One example that piques the imagination is the recent release of thousands of FBI files, files that divulge buckets of delicious tidbits collected by the zealous FBI on issues and individuals ranging from Hollywood stars to war protesters to college professors.  Somewhere someone had to decide how or if to inform the voyeuristic public of the release and the points of access.]

The Midwest Archives Conference met this past week in Green Bay.  A quick scan of the agenda for that meeting offers some ideas on what’s on the minds of archivists in September 2013.   These are the conference sessions:  User-centered design; Website analysis on a budget; Designing for hand-held devices; Crowd-source transcription; Leveraging Wikipedia; Using Omeka for web-based exhibit; Scan-on-demand reference and research services.

For another glimpse of today’s archives, check the October 25 meeting of the Twin Cities Archives Round Table (http://tcartmn.org/2013/09/23/twin-cities-archives-round-table-fall-meeting-2/) Archivists from a wide range of institutional settings will be meeting at the Red Wing Shoe Company (yes, corporations are important pillars of the archives community).   Archives of every stripe will share their combined skills and experience to assure that the record of each institution is preserved and made accessible to users, whether corporate, academic or the public at large.

Celebrate American Archives Month by taking a few minutes to view some starting points – this is a quick list of a very few of the state’s archives – don’t stop here!