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Tag Archives: Randall C Jimerson

what’s missing from fashion archives? women of color

One of my favorite blogs out there right now is Of Another Fashion, brought to you by the bloggers of Threadbared.  Of Another Fashion posts vintage and archival photos of stylish women of color in the United States, creating a digital archive that provides a perspective largely missing from mainstream fashion archives and exhibits.  The photos posted are from archives, other online sources, and public submissions.

This blog is particularly inspirational to me for a few reasons.  Foremost, the blog’s purpose is to highlight and share photographs that have a rich yet overlooked history.  Most of the photos’ subjects aren’t of models, but your everyday average woman.  Another key element of the blog is that it actively seeks contributions from the public — not only to post but with the larger goal of creating an actual exhibit.  Many of the photos shared are from family albums, which I think adds a richer narrative to the fashion record.  In the creators’ own words:

In providing a glimpse of women of color’s material cultural histories — a glimpse that no doubt only begins to redress the curatorial and critical absence of minoritized fashion histories — this archive and the forthcoming exhibition commemorates lives and experiences too often considered not important enough to save or to study.

This idea links directly to Rand Jimerson’s point about the power of archives and archivists (which I’ve written about previously).  In determining which histories, experiences, and narratives are preserved in archival institutions (and the context given of those materials), we greatly influence the cultural record and memory.  Archivists have a responsibility to ensure diversity in the archival record, and Of Another Fashion is a great example to look towards.

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in archives, diversity, links, photographs

 

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hyping links

MARAC Spring 2011: Archival Ethics and the Call of Justice
I missed out on Rand Jimerson’s plenary speech, so I was happy to find this summary from L’Archivista.

I Love the ’90s: Books Edition
The 1990s have cycled back “in” — but will the books?

2011 ALA Conference
The scheduler is up!  I still have no idea what sessions I plan on attending…

Homer Scissorhands
Several of the Smithsonian museums make a cameo in this Simpsons intro.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in conferences, links

 

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the power of archives

I just finished reading Randall C. Jimerson’s 2007 article “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice” — and I loved it!  I can’t wait to read his book Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice.  Here’s the article abstract:

Archivists should use their power—in determining what records will be preserved for future generations and in interpreting this documentation for researchers—for the benefit of all members of society.  By adopting a social conscience for the profession, they can commit themselves to active engagement in the public arena.  Archivists can use the power of archives to promote accountability, open government, diversity, and social justice.  In doing so, it is essential to distinguish objectivity from neutrality.  Advocacy and activism can address social issues without abandoning professional standards of fairness, honesty, detachment, and transparency.

Some personal background will tell you why I liked it so much.  Politically, I sit on the very far left of the spectrum.  Academically, I am of the critical theory and postmodern persuasion.  In college, I was a social justice activist.  So this article was meant for me.  This post is an initial reaction from reading the article, so forgive me if these thoughts are not completely cohesive.

As “record keepers,” archivists have power.  A lot of it.  The archives profession is associated with the history discipline for a reason.  We influence the context of how documents are perceived through our description, finding aids, etc.  The (not so) simple act of choosing which records are preserved or accessioned is a huge exercise of power — it can determine if a narrative or event is ever remembered or known.  Jimerson’s article includes many examples of how documents have held governments accountable.  Because archives shape our historical memory, it’s important that we not only keep records of institutions and their leadership, but the “ordinary” everyday people as well.

Today, if someone isn’t online, if they don’t have a findable web presence, or if their online presence isn’t archived — will they cease to be remembered in the future?  It’s a scary thought.  We aren’t living in a completely digital world yet and can’t forget about those who only exist in the analog.  I feel like so many archival institutions are busy either working on a backlog of unprocessed collections, digitizing already processed ones, or trying to figure out how to preserve electronic records.  With the romanticism of technology and shifting focus towards digital preservation, I hope we don’t forget about our responsibility to preserve the paper records that are still being created.  Not to say archives aren’t currently fulfilling that responsibility — it just seems like no one is talking about it.  This hybrid world we live in seems to only create more questions about the future, and while we should anticipate and plan for it, we can’t forget about our responsibilities to the present.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2011 in archives

 

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