We acknowledge the white supremacist structures upon which the university system is built and recognize our complicity in our role as archivists. We acknowledge the past is filled with difficult history, and the historical records that have been preserved do not always reflect diverse voices and experiences. We acknowledge the prejudices and biases of both the creators of historical records and the archivists who process these collections. We recognize the role we play in perpetuating this white supremacist methodology and aim to correct our course, both through the collections we receive and the ways we describe them.
We commit to continue to intentionally seek out underrepresented voices to add to our collections. However, we acknowledge this will not make up for the missing historical records of the past. As a first step, we will incorporate these good intentions into our collecting policies, which will be revised in fall 2021. We will also work with the community to advise them on preserving their own records, recognizing that sometimes that is the best place for historical materials.
Words and phrases used in the past may be offensive or inappropriate. Finding aids and search terms may also include such language, and as historians we have a challenging task to navigate balancing the preservation and documentation of events of the past, while not perpetuating negative stereotypes or harmful language. We also recognize that language is an evolving entity and will strive to use words that are not harmful whenever possible without doing damage to the historical record it is our mission to preserve. As we come across unbalanced or inappropriate descriptions, we aim to update our records accordingly. We recognize, however, that this piecemeal approach can only be a stopgap measure. In early 2022, we will begin a more systematic effort, beginning with the development of internal guidelines based on current best practices, and leading into the remediation of our metadata, from collection-level descriptions to descriptions of individual items. This will be a long and ongoing, but important, project.
We are continuing to learn in this process and welcome corrections from the community. Please contact Carrie Daniels, Director of Archives and Special Collections, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-852-6676 if we need to be called out or called in to this crucial conversation.