The Digital Sixties: Bridging Generations and Scholarship in Online Archives – Part 3

Final entry of the three-part series! The social movements of the 1960s are increasingly documented in digital collections, providing teachers, students, scholars and everyday people new insights into the tensions, conflicts and transformations of those turbulent times. This three-part series explores archiving projects housed at Midwestern universities and consider their value inside and beyond academia, and their relevance for current racial justice efforts, particularly Black Lives Matter. Each digital collection documents different dimensions of 1960s social movements and cultural transformation and considers their value to both scholarly and popular audiences. The first installment of this series is from the University of Iowa; the next two will feature holdings from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Part 3: Roz Payne Sixties Archive
By: Patrick D. Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Edited by: David McCartney, University of Iowa

The Roz Payne Sixties Archive is a collaborative digital archive featuring the collection of activist, photographer, and filmmaker Roz Payne (1940-2019).  The project is housed at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.    

Origins of the digital collection date to 2009, when the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted its Blacks in Film festival with the theme “Documenting Empowerment, Equality and Inclusion.” Payne was a featured speaker at the week-long event, which included screenings of films she produced or co-produced during the late 1960s for Newsreel Films, an independent film production company that was part of the emerging alternative media landscape at the time.

Payne joined Newsreel Films in 1967, “a group of independent filmmakers, photographers, and media workers [that had] formed a collective to make politically relevant films sharing our resources, skills, and equipment,” according to her website.

The films screened at the festival documented the Black Panther Party and its impact on the communities in which it was based. The films today provide insights into the scope and extent of BPP’s activism from the perspective of a filmmaker with close ties to the Party.

“We decided to make films that would show another side to the news. It was clear to us that the established forms of media were not going to approach those subjects which threaten their very existence. Our films tried to analyze, not just cover, the realities that the media, as part of the system, always ignores. We didn’t like to just send our films out; we would go out and speak with our films. We saw them as weapons. We hoped to serve as part of the catalyst for revolutionary social change,” Payne wrote.

In addition to producing films and photographs, Payne gathered and saved hundreds of items, such as leaflets, pamphlets, broadsides, manifestos, underground press issues and small press publications, buttons, posters, and other objects from that era.

The author was intrigued by Payne’s stories during the 2009 festival and began to discuss with her the prospect of digitally reformatting her materials to make them freely accessible through an online digital display created in OMEKA. On three occasions over the next two years, he travelled to Payne’s home in Burlington, Vermont, to complete the project. While some leaflets, flyers, broadsides, pamphlets, manifestos and small press publications were organized in a set of filing cabinets, many other artifacts were placed throughout the donor’s home, including political buttons, folk singer Malvina Reynolds’ guitar, her two original tickets to Woodstock, and even the original blueprints for Woodstock. Files were created digitally by using a scanner or camera, and the digital collection ultimately consisted of several thousand unique artifacts. Metadata, providing brief context for each artifact and some general introductory text for the project, were added.   

The Roz Payne Sixties Archive documents one activist’s perspective of the political landscape of the 1960s across the New Left, including materials from the student movement, anti-war activism, the counterculture, the civil rights and Black Power movements, women’s liberation, gay rights, the Chicano movement, Puerto Rican nationalism, the Cuban Revolution and Third World liberation struggles, the prisoner rights movement, radical psychology, early environmentalism and more. Noted events are cast in fresh light, including more than 500 original photographs of protests outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968. Learn more about Roz Payne at Obituary: Roslyn Cristiano Payne, 1940-2019 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont’s Independent Voice (


The Digital Sixties: Bridging Generations and Scholarship in Online Archives – Part 2

Continuation of a three-part series! The social movements of the 1960s are increasingly documented in digital collections, providing teachers, students, scholars and everyday people new insights into the tensions, conflicts and transformations of those turbulent times. This three-part series explores archiving projects housed at Midwestern universities and consider their value inside and beyond academia, and their relevance for current racial justice efforts, particularly Black Lives Matter. Each digital collection documents different dimensions of 1960s social movements and cultural transformation and considers their value to both scholarly and popular audiences. The first installment of this series is from the University of Iowa; the next two will feature holdings from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Part 2: March on Milwaukee
By: Abigail Nye, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Archives

Early in the evening of Monday, August 28, 1967, over one hundred members of the Milwaukee Youth Council of the NAACP gathered at their headquarters at 1316 North 15th Street, picked up signs hand-lettered with slogans like “We Need Fair Housing,” and, led by Father James E. Groppi, a white Roman Catholic priest who served as their adviser, headed toward the 16th Street viaduct. At about 6:30 p.m. they were greeted at the north end of the viaduct by almost another one hundred supporters and crossed over the viaduct to the nearly all-white south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There the marchers met resistance.
-Margaret Rozga

It was 2007. Jasmine Allender, a UWM faculty member, was attending funerals for activists who led those efforts in 1967. Worried that younger generations might lose their connection to that history, she approached the UWM Archives with the idea of creating a digital archive about Milwaukee’s civil rights movement.  The resulting project was a collaborative effort between archivists, history faculty, digital collections librarians, and many talented graduate students.

The March on Milwaukee digital collection was launched in 2010 and included selections from selected papers of individuals representing a variety of positions on the civil rights issue, photographs, unedited footage from the WTMJ-TV news film archives, and oral history interviews. The site also includes contextual materials, including “Key Terms” to describe significant people, places, events, and organizations; a timeline; a bibliography of relevant published sources; and a map highlighting important locations.

In 2016, the collection underwent a major refresh as we added new materials recently acquired collections. We made significant improvements to all of our streaming media, which includes film footage and oral history interviews. We added some additional film footage that had been digitized for use in a documentary about Vel Phillips produced by Wisconsin Public Television.  We moved all streaming media to a mobile-friendly platform because the native streaming application in CONTENTdm failed to work on mobile devices and some operating systems.  We continue to add oral histories and other content as it becomes available.

While Milwaukee celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Fair Housing Marches in 2018, the documentary evidence around the 200 consecutive nights of marching has become even more relevant in 2020.  2020 brought two significant and interrelated issues to Milwaukee: the pandemic and the fight for racial justice.

When educational institutions switched to virtual learning in March 2020, the UWM Archives quickly pivoted to online instruction, leaning heavily on our digital collections.  Our most popular digital resource is our March on Milwaukee collection; over the years we’ve built up a wide array of sources and contextual timelines, maps, and key terms.  While scholars from around the globe consult the collection in their study of the northern civil rights movement, March on Milwaukee is ultimately a teaching resource.  Both K-12 and university students access the primary sources for class assignments and personal projects.

It’s not just students who are learning from the collection, however.  The protests that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death were informed by the lessons from activists that are documented in March on Milwaukee. When reporters interviewed Milwaukee activist leaders like Khalil Coleman, they emphasize that Milwaukee’s history of protesting injustice set the groundwork for this latest, long-term movement. “This isn’t by accident that this movement popped off in Milwaukee,” Coleman said to a Milwaukee Magazine reporter. “This is not a fly-by-night thing. This wasn’t a situation where we all woke up one morning and George Floyd was dead, and everybody just took to the streets. These were strategically planned and executed to be sustainable.”

This spring, Milwaukee 9th graders are engaging the March on Milwaukee digital collection in a project to democratize local history-telling.  Through the hard work of archivists and historians, younger generations are connecting to their city’s past and drawing inspiration for the future.

The Digital Sixties: Bridging Generations and Scholarship in Online Archives – Part 1

NEW three-part series! The social movements of the 1960s are increasingly documented in digital collections, providing teachers, students, scholars and everyday people new insights into the tensions, conflicts and transformations of those turbulent times. This three-part series explores archiving projects housed at Midwestern universities and consider their value inside and beyond academia, and their relevance for current racial justice efforts, particularly Black Lives Matter. Each digital collection documents different dimensions of 1960s social movements and cultural transformation and considers their value to both scholarly and popular audiences. The first installment of this series is from the University of Iowa; the next two will feature holdings from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Part 1: Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the 1960s
By: David McCartney, University of Iowa Archivist

While the 1960s encompassed an emerging counter-culture – perhaps its most popular image today – the decade also embodied a wide range of experiences among students on U.S. college and university campuses. Political movements, social activities, ROTC classes, fraternity and sorority life, challenges to academic traditions, the sexual revolution, relaxing of student conduct codes, and more: these are the parts that make up the whole, a complex and remarkable historical period.

For Iowa City, home of the State University of Iowa, as it was known until 1964, highlights of this period are documented in a digital exhibit curated and produced as a collaboration among several units of the University Libraries: the University Archives, the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio (DSPS), and Preservation and Conservation Services. According to the site, the exhibit is “an immersive content discovery tool made possible by collaborators within and beyond the University of Iowa Libraries.” 

Recognizing that the 50-year anniversaries of numerous events, both local and national in scope, were approaching, the author beginning in 2014 had informal discussions with faculty of various disciplines to determine their preferences for research and instruction purposes. Political science, history, journalism, English, military science, and other academic and service areas were contacted. The author also reached out to alumni to seek out their ideas. 

These conversations, along with previous reference experience, helped to guide curation. Popular topics included civil rights, student life, politics and protest, the arts, the second-wave feminist movement, gay rights (the term LGBTQ did not come into popular usage until later), and popular culture. Technical information about creation of the site is included in a colophon linked from the exhibit’s home page. The resulting exhibit, “Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the Sixties,” was released in 2016, featuring content selected from over 40 collections across the University Archives. New content is added as additional resources are identified.

During preparation of the exhibit, DSPS staff were particularly enthusiastic and supportive, as this is in keeping with the Studio’s mission to provide faculty the opportunity to access digital content pertinent to their research and instruction needs. The project also enabled University Archives to work closely with Preservation and Conservation in selecting audiovisual content that was at risk of loss. An important consideration to keep in mind from the outset is allowing the collaborating units adequate lead time and to set realistic schedules for completion, on account of workflow demands of other projects. 

While the title declares “the Sixties,” the site’s timeline bookends as November 1959, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the campus, and January 1973, following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and what was billed at the time as “the last anti-war demonstration on campus.”


Interactive features of the site include a set of layered campus maps spanning 1958 to 1975. Dynamic content includes a 1960 University of Iowa newsreel, a half-hour documentary recounting the 1967 Dow riot at the student union, the inauguration of Howard Bowen as university president in 1964, and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren speaking at the dedication of the new law school commons in 1962. 

The site also highlights digitally-reformatted audio recordings of selected poetry readings and literary ‘happenings,’ thanks to the presence of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Featured individuals include Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Margaret Walker Alexander, Jorge Luis Borges, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Free Webinar Series: Spring 2021

The College and University Archives Section is excited to announce a spring webinar series! This series of four virtual learning opportunities will feature archivists discussing their approaches to a variety of prevailing topics in our work today, including documenting current events, the archives role in institutional commemorations, collecting the student experience, and instruction. Below is the schedule, basic information about each webinar, and how to join via Zoom. Participants can register at no cost via the Zoom link anytime before the session begins. We hope you can join us!

March Webinar

Title: Collecting the Present in University Archives

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 1 pm ET/12 noon CT/10 am PT

Description: Archivists are afforded technologies that can facilitate digital documentation projects that document current events. However, these projects present a number of challenges and may put those represented in the records in vulnerable positions. This panel will discuss the history of University of Illinois Archives’ contemporary collecting efforts and how these initiatives fit within the Archives’ overall collecting policies and approaches. Panelists will discuss challenges of these projects and learning outcomes for collecting the present. 

Speaker Information:

Bethany Anderson is the Natural and Applied Sciences Archivist at the University of Illinois Archives. In this role, Bethany works with units across the University of Illinois campus to document the scientific enterprise. She is also Reviews Editor for American Archivist and co-editor of the Archival Futures Series, which is co-published by ALA and SAA.

Jessica Ballard is the Archivist of Multicultural Collections and Services at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She holds a joint Masters in History and Library Science from Indiana University Bloomington. Jessica’s work focuses on collection development, policies, and research pertaining to underrepresented groups. She is an advisory board member for Project STAND.

Webinar recording:

April Webinar

Title: Those Were the Days: Making College and University Milestones Matter Today

Date: Thursday, April 15, 1 pm ET/12 noon CT/10 am PT

Description: All colleges and universities have a history. College archives are charged with preserving their histories through the institutional historical records in their care. What are some unique, interesting, and innovative ways that we can leverage the records at times of institution commemoration, celebration, and remembrance? Join your colleagues from the leadership of the College and University Archives section of SAA to learn how peer archivists have done just that.

Speaker Information:

April K. Anderson-Zorn is the university archivist for Illinois State University.  Anderson-Zorn holds a master’s degree in History from the University of Central Florida, an MLIS from Florida State University, maintains a Digital Archives Specialist certificate through the Society of American Archivists, and is a certified archivist.  Anderson-Zorn is active in SAA and the Midwest Archives Conference, presenting topics and authoring articles related to university archives outreach projects and tools.

Karen Trivette is an Associate Professor and Head of Special Collections and College Archives for the Fashion Institute of Technology-State University of New York. She holds a Master of Library Science degree from the University at Albany-SUNY and is pursuing her Doctorate of Archival Sciences at the Alma Mater Europaea University in Maribor, Slovenia. Trivette is active in SAA, especially the College & University Archives and Design Records sections, and presents regularly both nationally and internationally.

Webinar recording:

May Webinar

Title: Archiving Student Life on Campus

Date: Wednesday, May 5, 1 pm ET/12 noon CT/10 am PT

Description: An integral component of college and university histories is student experience. Archivists interested in documenting a more inclusive record of student experiences on their campus will look to student organizations, alumni accounts, social and cultural activities, political activism, and other key events. Creating meaningful relationships with students can lead to impactful archival collections and resources for future scholarly research and for students looking to understand their legacies. Join three archivists in a discussion about their approaches to collecting student life, including their goals, specific projects, and successes and challenges faced while doing this work. 

Speaker Information:

Jessica Ballard is the Archivist of Multicultural Collections and Services at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She holds a joint Masters in History and Library Science from Indiana University Bloomington. Jessica’s work focuses on collection development, policies, and research pertaining to underrepresented groups. She is an advisory board member for Project STAND, and served on STAND’s student engagement committee.

Lae’l Hughes-Watkins is the University Archivist for the University of Maryland. As the University Archivist, she is responsible for the University of Maryland collection area within Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and oversees reference services, collection development, donor outreach, and stewardship and instruction activities. She is the founder of Project STAND, and research areas focus on outreach to marginalized communities, documenting student activism within disenfranchised populations, and utilizing narrative of oppressed voices within the curricula of post-secondary education spaces.

Valencia L. Johnson is the Archivist for Student Life at Princeton University. In addition to being a certified archivist, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies and History from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Baylor University. She engages with student organizations on managing and preserving their records, in analog and born-digital formats. As the creator of Amp Up Your Archives program, she works to create records management and archival initiatives to inspire students to view their records and materials as important documentation that is an equal to the administrative record of the university.

Webinar recording:

June Webinar

Title Using Primary Sources for Instruction

Date Wednesday, June 2, 1 pm ET/12 noon CT/10 am PT

Description: This 60-minute presentation will focus on online instruction tools and activities, with an emphasis on the instruction process from start to finish. Presenters will also discuss self-care for instructors and students. 

Speaker Information:

Rachel Seale is the Outreach Archivist at Iowa State University (ISU) Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA). Rachel has been a member of the SAA Committee on Public Awareness since 2017 and is currently serving as vice-chair. In 2018, she presented at the Midwestern Archives Conference Fall Symposium with Anna Trammell and Cara Stone on instruction and assessment in special collections and archives. In 2020, Rachel was elected to serve on the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) Nominating Committee.

Cara B. Stone is an Instruction Librarian at Iowa State University. She is active in Iowa’s library associations, having served on both the Iowa Library Association (ILA) and the ILA Association of College & Research Libraries executive boards. In 2016 Cara founded the ILA Committee for Diversity & Inclusion and served as Chair through 2019. She also co-leads the Iowa Private Academic Libraries Information Literacy Interest Group annual workshops. Cara has presented at several conferences, including the Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, the Council of Independent Colleges Information Fluency in the Disciplines Workshop, LOEX, and the Midwest Archives Conference Fall Symposium.

Webinar recording:



Call for Campus Case Studies

Hello fellow archivists,

The leadership of the College & University Archives (C&UA) Section is very pleased to remind you of an exciting publishing opportunity through SAA as administered by this section. Writing a Campus Case Study is a wonderful way to test the SAA publishing waters and develop your ideas.

The C&UA Section Steering Committee would like to encourage you to consider this publishing opportunity. “The submission process for a Campus Case Study is designed for ease and flexibility of use and obligates authors only to a minimum of required information for submission.”

In fact, if you have been considering publishing via an SAA vehicle such as Archival Outlook or The American Archivist, a Campus Case Study might be the perfect gateway to test your idea, theory, or thesis. We even provide the rubric for evaluating your submission in order to encourage and facilitate your success.

Please feel free to contact any member of the C&UA Steering Committee to learn more about this exciting opportunity. Names of Committee members can be found on the Section website at

Thank you for considering this opportunity and we look forward to your submissions!

COVID-19 Documentation Goes Viral!

Many archivists are faced with figuring out efficient, reliable, and effective ways to capture stories and associated materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to ensure this time in the world’s history is documented and preserved for today’s knowledge and tomorrow’s discoveries. Katie Howell (she/her/hers), the University Archivist at UNC Charlotte, created early documentation and procedures that many archivists rapidly adopted at their own institutions. We asked Katie a few questions about how things got started at UNC Charlotte, her experiences related to crisis and tragedy, as well as how she’s affected by the global pandemic.

Katie Howell has been the University Archivist at UNC Charlotte since 2016. Prior to holding this position she was the college archivist at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC and the reference archivist for the Austin History Center. She received her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin.

Katie Howell, University Archivist, UNC-Charlotte

How has COVID-19 affected your lifestyle? What changes were you able to make and what challenges do you face?

So far I feel very fortunate that my biggest changes have been working from home. I know that many, many archivists out there are worried about changes to income and employment status, their health or the health of loved ones, and the general uncertain state of the world. I have been working remotely from home since mid-March while also caring for my three young children. It is certainly challenging and a change from our normal, but the inconveniences we’ve faced and our new routines are manageable so far. My work day looks (and sounds!) a lot different these days, and I’ve had to get used to working in short focused bursts during my kids’ nap times and lunchtime, as well as late at night and on the weekends.

What is something you consider to still be “normal” for you?

I know there are a lot of jokes to be made about having too many meetings, but I have been grateful for the relative normalcy of my standing committee meetings in the past month. Sure, we all had a bit of a learning curve pivoting to conference calls and video chat, but I really value and appreciate a “normal” work conversation with my colleagues.

Can you tell us a little bit about what role you see the archives profession playing during this pandemic?

I tend to see the role of the archivist as one who works to help communities, institutions, and individuals capture, preserve, and share their historical record. Given how fragile and fast-moving digital recordkeeping can be, the knowledge and experience of archivists can be highly valuable in helping to capture first-person accounts and other primary sources of current and contemporary events before they are lost. Archiving responses to traumatic experiences is unfortunately a skill that too many archivists have had to learn in recent years, but there are great resources out there to help those who are currently feeling that they are in the midst of tragedy response efforts in their own communities.

The documentation you created for capturing COVID-19 related stories at UNC Charlotte quickly became the standard most archival repositories are using to set up their own outreach efforts. Can you walk us through when and how this evolved at UNC Charlotte?

In the days leading up to our campus beginning remote work and online instruction on March 16, the library staff started brainstorming projects that student workers could do to continue to work their normal hours and receive their normal pay. We didn’t know what kind of administrative changes might take place that could affect their employment status or pay, and library supervisors wanted to be prepared. I had seen several conversations on Twitter and elsewhere with archivists sharing ideas for work from home projects. This idea came out of those conversations. I thought it would be of interest to our library student workers as a way to work from home, perhaps as a break from data entry or webinars. Over time, we expanded the scope and pushed it out campus-wide so that anyone with interest could participate if they wanted.

Did any past experience(s) help you prepare for this moment?

Unfortunately, we were pretty well prepared to start this project so quickly because we had dealt with a traumatic event on our campus just a year ago. On April 30, 2019 two students were killed and four others were injured in a shooting on our campus. As part of efforts to document that event, we had created an online submission form and agreement for students, staff, and faculty to submit their reflections to the archives. So to start the COVID-19 documentation effort we repurposed that form and just made some small adjustments to certain fields and the introductory text. Some of the conversations we had about the potential for self-documentation to be re-traumatizing or cathartic informed my decision to include mental health and other support resources for participants. I think the past traumatic experience our unit went through prepared us well to check in with and support each other emotionally, a practice which has been so important in this time of social distancing, distressing current events, and extreme uncertainty.

What/Who else have you relied on through this process? What support are you receiving (from UNC Charlotte, colleagues, archivists, etc.)

I’ve worked very closely with Tyler Cline, UNC Charlotte’s digital archivist and Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean of Special Collections to construct our form and spread the word on the project. I also relied on Kate Dickson, our law and copyright librarian, to assist with the wording of our submission agreements, especially regarding any potential personal health information that might be revealed by a participant and to ensure we were in compliance with FERPA policies on our campus. Many others in Special Collections & University Archives helped me fine tune the submission form and spread the word on our campus.

What are some lessons you’ve learned so far? Is there anything you would do differently or recommend for other archivists/institutions when trying to do something similar?

One of the first adjustments we did was to modify the original agreement I’d included on our form to be a revocable license for use. I felt that it was important to be clear that participants could come back at any time and revoke the permissions for us to use their content. I have often wondered that it might have been advantageous to include a series of questions to get participants started thinking about their response. Ultimately, I decided to keep a more open-ended approach. 

I think the biggest challenge has been getting the word out, but given that our students are dealing with a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty at the moment, I think a quieter approach is just fine for now. It’s possible that when the university community eventually returns to campus that we will push out the project again more broadly. With my previous experience in tragedy response documentation it was centered around a single traumatic event on a single day. And though people continue to be affected in ways both large and small a year later, it was easier to ask people to reflect on that single day in the weeks and months that followed. The COVID-19 crisis has no clear end in sight, and so I understand it may be quite some time before people feel they are fully ready to reflect on their experiences.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I just hope that everyone reading is able to stay safe and healthy!

Project STAND: Documenting Student Activism from the Margins

By Lae’l Hughes-Watkins 

Students gather together outside in protest, 197?
Students gather together outside in protest, 1970. Image 01621 courtesy Case Western Reserve University Archives.

In 2014 a die-in happened at Kent State University. Black students laid outside of the university’s Student Center, in chalk outlines, some bearing signs “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” to draw attention to the national protest and discourse surrounding the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. On November 9, 2015, university president Tim Wolfe resigned from Missouri University, in the aftermath of pleas to address growing racial tensions that resulted in a hunger strike by a graduate student and the threat of another strike by the university’s football team. In December 2016, a group of demonstrators was arrested at Michigan State University as they expressed opposition to the arrival of Milo Yiannopoulos, an author, who is widely known for his controversial views on a range of topics from social justice, to feminism, to the LGBTQIA community. More than a year later, on September 5, 2017, nearly one hundred students at Case Western Reserve University banded together to amplify their concerns on the repeal of the Dreamer’s Act (Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals), impacting hundreds of thousands of immigrants. These social movements stem from a long, storied tradition of activism on college and university campuses around the country that can be traced back hundreds of years in some instances. But are these narratives of student protests about marginalized and often oppressed communities being routinely archived as part of the responsibilities of university archivists in the tradition of capturing and preserving the entire narrative of our academic institutions?

In the fall of 2016, I contacted Tamar Chute, the university archivist at Ohio State University.  The goal was to make sure this idea wasn’t crazy and to flesh out an effort to centralize access to these narratives taking place throughout our nation’s academic organizations. One objective was to learn what types of challenges and successes academic repositories were facing in archiving the voices of students who remain in the margins, from Chicano/a, African American, Native American, differently abled, LGBTQIA, ethnic minorities, Latino/a, etc., and other historically marginalized groups. Chute and I discussed the potential benefit of a collaborative tool that could help fellow professionals build relationships with student organizations where none existed, as student organizations are often the custodians of such records. We also acknowledged that creating a tool to bring together resources held at institutions across geographical regions will elevate our resources and potentially drive more traffic to digital and analog collections that may currently be underutilized.  In June of 2017, Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented) was officially launched to address these questions and create a collaborative of folks ready to highlight their work, interrogate archival practices, pose ethical issues, and build a resource illuminating projects and collections on the frontlines.

Members of the Gay Illini student organization at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987. (RS 41/2/46, Courtesy University of Illinois Archives.)

Project STAND is an online clearinghouse where academic institutions can provide researchers a centralized access point to historical and archival documentation on the development and on-going occurrences of student dissent. Project STAND focuses on digital and analog primary sources that document the activities of student groups that represent the concerns of historically marginalized communities (e.g., African American, Chicano/a, LGBTQ, religious minorities, disabled, etc.). STAND will also highlight the work of others (e.g., faculty, staff, and administrators) who advocate for or support the interests of those communities.

The project was initially Ohio-based and partially inspired by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) due to its data collection tools, but quickly began to incorporate institutions outside the state. This initiative now includes 40 participating institutions including Arizona State, AUC Woodruff Library, Chicago State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Jackson State, Kent State, Miami University, Michigan State, Purdue, University of Iowa, South Carolina State, Wright State, University of Akron, University of California San Diego, and University of Rhode Island.

Participants complete a collection assessment sharing information on holdings that meet STAND’s objectives. So far, close to 200 surveys have been completed, and the early data shows 20 percent of the responses represent collections from 2000-present, while records that center on the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, Native Americans, and Disabled Rights are underrepresented. The project aims to continue building partnerships throughout 2018 with symposia and updates through STAND’s website. As we continue to drill down into the data submitted by participants, we seek to get a stronger image of student activism surrounding historically oppressed communities across geographical locations, and to not only interrogate our practices as archivists documenting more contemporary narratives, but also to ensure we have captured the social movements of our past.

Admin Building Takeover
Black United Students (BUS) take over administration building , April 27, 1970. Courtesy of Lafayette Tolliver Collection. Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.

This effort is emerging at a time when many organizations and scholars are making efforts to do a deep-dive into this area through expanding the scope of their collection development areas, digital initiatives, and exhibits, like Kent State’s Black Campus Movement Project, a collection development initiative to engage in outreach with alumni and current students to capture the history of black student activism, and eventually serve as a model to acquire records pertaining to other disenfranchised student populations, Princeton’s ASAP project capturing the activism of Princetonians on and off-campus, to UC San Diego’s How UC It: Living Archive, “an alternative way to highlight awareness, provide a space for dialogue, preserve and document events that have affected the UCSD campus climate socially and/or incidents that have targeted specific underrepresented group.” Groups such as the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) even hosted an online forum in January entitled A History of Student Activism.

STAND is providing a platform that will elevate collections addressing the growing needs of faculty, students, researchers, community members, and various stakeholders interested in the complex and richly diverse voices of their academic institutions. We are also creating a network of professionals who acknowledge and accept the challenge and rewards of documenting communities that are often forgotten but critical to unpacking and understanding our institutions and communities in which they reside. If you are interested in these issues, we would love to have you join us. Please send inquiries to

Lae’l Hughes-Watkins is the University Archivist, Assistant Professor at Kent State University. She is the founder of Project STAND and holds a position on SAA’s Appointments Committee.  She holds an M.A in English from Youngstown State University and an MLIS from Kent State.

Do it! Be a Mentor!

By Greg Bailey

Bronze figures from the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden, photo by Derek Oyen

For the last two years I have been a mentor in the SAA Mentoring Program.  This opportunity is one I encourage you to participate in, and one that I will continue to support and partake in.


I must admit, I had a little trepidation when I first decided to try the mentoring program with SAA.  I wanted to get more involved in the profession and with SAA and thought that the mentoring program would be a good place to start, but at the same time I was wondered whether I had enough experience to be a good mentor to a protégé.

Shortly after having an early conversation with my first protégé I knew that I could be a valuable mentor to her.  She was transitioning from a metadata position in the library she worked at to the university archivist and records manager at the same university.  My first job as an archivist was in a similar role and I was able to give advice on a number of issues she was facing when trying to get the positions in order.  My protégé attended the annual meeting at SAA and we were able to meet in person to continue our discussions about working to expand archival collections and how records management tied in with this.  I feel I was able to give some good guidance and support to an archivist who was just entering the profession and trying to revive both the university archives and records management programs at her institution.

This year marks my second in the mentoring program and I have a new protégé (per the program).  He is currently enrolled in an MLIS program and working toward completion of his degree.  We have had a number of good conversations through our time as mentor-protégé.  We have discussed classes both within his program and also ones offered by SAA; the importance of service and involvement in the profession balanced with education and other commitments; the dichotomy that sometimes arises between archival theory and what we practice.  My protégé has asked some good questions and I look forward to the time we have remaining in the program.

It is important to be a mentor to new grad students and new professionals as they look to those with experience and advice in a profession that is new to them. Think back to what it was like when you first started out: Would an experienced professional willing to answer questions and give advice have helped your transition?

Everyone has help along the way.  We don’t have all the answers, especially when starting out in a career.  Being a sounding board and offering advice can help others gain the understanding and confidence needed to succeed.  Being a mentor helps our profession and shows that we are a welcoming and knowledgeable group that is willing to be there for our colleagues.  So, I encourage you to be a mentor.

Greg Bailey is the University Archivist at Texas A&M University, a position he has help since January 2014.  Prior to that, he served at the University Archivist and Records Manager at Stephen F. Austin State University.  He is currently a member of the College and University Archives Section’s Steering Committee.  

Why be a mentor?

By Christina Zamon

During my time as an SAA member, I have had the honor and privilege of being a mentor for six protégés. Some of them were fleeting relationships, but a few have turned into long lasting friendships.

Why be a mentor?  Early in my career I asked that question, and thought I didn’t have enough experience to be a mentor … but I was wrong. Anyone can be a mentor regardless of how long you have been an archivist. Many colleagues seeking mentors are at a variety of points in their career, and can bring a different perspective to an issue a colleague is facing. Something as simple as moving from a government job to an academic job can feel like starting over. Sometimes a colleague is stuck in a rut and just needs some encouragement or a graduate student is seeking advice on what to expect when they graduate. I have been a mentor for colleagues in a variety of situations and have found it to be incredibly rewarding.

Recently I began reflecting on some of the people I have mentored over the years, and one stood out in particular. Back in 2011, I received an email from SAA asking if I would be willing to take on a second protégé. Since my current protégé wasn’t very active in seeking advice or keeping in touch, I agreed to take on one more. I found out that the person requesting a mentor was looking for a colleague in the Boston area so that she would have the chance to meet a regular basis. Once matched, we quickly set a time to meet each other for lunch. From the outset, it became apparent that she was looking for someone with experience at a higher level of supervision and management than what I had. My title led the matchmakers at SAA to believe that I was in charge of a staff, when really, I was a lone arranger. It turned out that we were peers rather than a typical mentor/protégé, but we decided to keep at it and formed a peer mentoring relationship. We met regularly, and after a few meetings with each other expanded our mentorship circle by adding another peer, and yet one more a few months later to form a four-person peer mentoring group within the span of a year. As a group, we met every few months for dinner after work to discuss issues we were having as mid-career archivists. We talked each other through tough decisions, gave advice, and made suggestions on how we could improve our individual situations or move on to a position that would take us to “the next level” in our careers. Not only did we all become close friends over the last five years, but three of us have moved into different positions to advance our careers as well, expanding our personal ambitions and goals.

This is just one example of how being a mentor has not only shaped my life, but the lives of other archivists in the profession by giving just a few hours each year to my protégés. It has been a wonderful learning experience for me, and one that has enriched both my life and career as an archivist. If you haven’t tried being a mentor, I strongly encourage you to become one. You may find that it was the best thing you’ve ever done, not only for yourself, but for others. Who knows, you may just make a few lifetime friends along the way.

Christina Zamon is the Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Georgia State University, a position she has held since September 2016. Prior to that time, she served as Head of Archives and Special Collections at Emerson College. She is the author of The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository. She is currently a member of the College and University Archives Section’s Steering Committee and previously served as chair of the section (2014-2015).