February is African American history month and we at the ALA Archives want to help you optimize your research into African American and African history. In this month’s blog post, we’ll take a tour through ALA Archives holdings and we’ll use multiple strategies for finding information.
Read on to learn more about locating African American history materials at an archives!
Every archivist has encountered a collection that has given them a hard time or left them with a puzzled look on their face as they ponder where to start. As an archivist, preserving materials is one of the most important tasks that we face in our jobs. Here at the ALA Archives, we receive collections with materials that range from oversized posters, 100 year old documents, and pictures, and it is our job to keep these historic materials in the best shape as possible.
While working on reprocessing a collection that included Executive Board minutes from ALA meetings, I encountered an interesting situation. The documents were all bound together by different materials, some screwed together with metal, some with plastic, and it was my job to get the potential paper damager out.
A.L.A President (2013-14) Barbara Stripling’s Presidential Initiative Libraries Change Lives produced a great amount of posters from libraries across the country that have recently arrived at the A.L.A. Archives.
On November 11, 1966, Headquarters Librarian Ruth White wrote to Associate Executive Director Alphonse Trezza:
The archives for ALA are now stored in many places.There has never been an established policy for retention and disposition of ALA and divisional correspondence and publications. Neither has there been a systematic program for collection of archival material. In 1949 the Committee on A.L.A. Archival and Library Materials made a detailed report, but there is no record of action being taken on the report. Certainly the recommendations have been carried out only spasmodically, if at all. As stated at the beginning, the result is that many divisions have their own archives, some archival material is in Central Files, some if in the library, and some is in the hands of officers, past officers and past headquarters…