SAA 2015: Plenary 1, Telling the Story of Archives and Archivists

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

Plenary 1’s focus this year in Cleveland was on storytelling and featured two guest speakers, Daniel Horowitz Garcia, the Atlanta Regional Manager for StoryCorp, and Tom Owen, the Vice President of PGAV Destinations.

Prior to their presentations, SAA President Kathleen Roe addressed the room in order to welcome attendees to the conference, announce a few awards, and touch on some advocacy efforts.

First, the J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award was given to Adrena Ifill Blagburn. Three new Fellows were named: Jelain Chubb, Kathleen Williams, and Kathy Marquis. Also, the Council gave special recognition to Mark A. Greene. The resolution honoring him reads as follows:

Whereas Mark Allen Greene has for the past thirty years provided significant and continuous leadership to the Society of American Archivists across its sections, roundtables, committees, and governing bodies, culminating in service as SAA president during 2007-2008;

And whereas Mark Greene has over the course of his career made numerous truly impressive contributions to the literary canon of archival science, focusing especially on archival appraisal, but including archival meaning and value, archival ethics, archives management, and arrangement and description;

And whereas Mark Greene has worked continuously and enthusiastically to mentor, train, and educate a large number of emerging archivists so they too could achieve success in archival endeavor;

And whereas Mark Greene has consistently and relentlessly demonstrated a vision for the archival profession that has frequently caused him to challenge accepted theory and practice and to champion new approaches and directions often for the betterment of the profession;

And whereas Mark Greene has in a too brief career that has been burdened by physical challenges nevertheless invested himself in tis profession to an heroic degree that is admired by so many of us, his colleagues;

Now therefore be it resolved that the Council of the Society of American Archivists recognizes, applauds, and heartily thanks Mark Allen Green for his outstanding service to SAA and to the archives profession.

After awards were announced, President Roe spoke about advocacy, which is Goal One of SAA’s strategic plan. A new theme, Archives Change Lives, was announced, along with an accompanying video:

Ask an Archivist Day will be held on October 1, 2015, and members are encouraged to participate.

Garcia and Owen were then introduced and spoke on how we as archivists might tell the stories contained within our archives. People can learn from the experiences of others, and they want their stories to be used. This is where archivists come in. Owen noted that a well-told story causes the listener to mirror the brain activity and emotions of the protagonist. Garcia reminded attendees that people have their own voices; they don’t need others to talk for them. However, archivists are needed to help other people hear these stories. He also noted that no one wants to hear about the technicalities of the archivist’s job. Rather, we should help release the potential energy contained within the stories where we work. Archivists help people in their struggle to be remembered.

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