Sorry for the delay in updates…I have been very busy here! Here’s an update on what I have been doing thus far:
As you know, I am an IMLS Fellow, and I was placed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Alabama. As a recap, the Alabama Department of Archives and History is the nation’s oldest state repository and archive, beating the Mississippi Department of Archives and History by one year. The mission statement of this repository is to collect, protect and preserve the history of all Alabamians. This repository has extensive collections of Civil War related materials, newspapers published in Alabama (the majority of which is on microfilm), a broad digital collection, military papers, etc. The great thing is a lot of it is online! Check out the link here: http://www.archives.alabama.gov/ .
While I have been here I have cataloged about sixteen records, which are available online, and they span different materials. I have worked with slave bills of sales, civil rights ephemera, plantation records, White Citizens papers and pamphlets, judicial papers and organizational papers, private collections… just to name a few! Every collection that I have cataloged taught me something new about the history of the state, the citizens who shaped it, and the preservation needs for the collections.
Of all of the collections that I have worked with thus far, the following two have stood out the most:
The William Stanley Pace collection: William Stanley Pace was a local member of the White Citizen’s council, which was a national white segregationist organization, in Selma, Alabama. In its doctrine, this organization was in favor of the preservation of segregation and separation of the races, but rejected the techniques employed by supremacist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan. Instead, this organization turned to literature and voting to maintain the status quo in the South. There are two very interesting things about this collection; the almost complete set of rhetoric pamphlets and the fact that the family held on and saw the importance in donating the papers to the state archive. While ideas that were popularized within this organization were commonplace during the early and mid 20th century, over time they fell out of favor and were shunned by the majority and the powers at be, and people tended to hide their affiliation to such groups. From a preservation standpoint, I had to think carefully about how the information could be used and the probability of the information being stolen from the repository, which dictates the kinds of restrictions on the collection. In the end, we decided to copy the pamphlets so we could keep the originals safe and still allow access to the information.
The Charles Dunn Family Collection: This is a very exciting collection to me because it documents the Black middle and upper-middle class in Montgomery, Alabama! Mr. Dunn was a graduate from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and he coached at Alabama State University well into the mid-late 20th century. In this collection, there are different types of materials, including photographs that provide a glimpse into the life of a community that gets very little attention (in my opinion). Outside of moving things into book boxes and setting things aside to be scanned, this was a very easy collection to catalog, but the information it provides is immeasurable!!!
In addition to my cataloging adventures here at the archives, I have also been helping with the public programs hosted by the Archives, called ArchiTreats, presented at the Society of Alabama Archivists (SALA) on the benefits and purpose of oral history and oral history records in archives, participated in the Alabama Historical Association’s Fall pilgrimage to Tuskegee and became an Archival Training Collaborative (ATC) trainer (which included two training sessions in Jackson, Mississippi. I am currently working on three public programs, one utilizing the Peppler/ Southern Courier collection, one on photo preservation, and a workshop on exhibit design, and I will keep every one posted on the progress of those programs!
Until next time!!!!