NEA taking the past into the future


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  • 2015-04-23 12:20 PM | Michelle Romero

    Representative-at-Large Tessa Cierny has accepted a position in Atlanta with Cadence Group as Records Analyst Team Lead and has vacated her seat on NEA's Executive Board this April. The Board would like to thank Tessa for all of her hard work over the past two years, and wishes her the best in new position!

    President Colin Lukens has appointed Abigail Cramer to serve as Acting Representative-at-Large for the remainder of Tessa's term, which ends April 2, 2016.  The Board would like to thank Abby for her willingness to take on this role.

  • 2015-04-17 10:51 AM | Michelle Romero

    New England Archivists is a sponsor of the upcoming Mass History Conference:


    A Conference for Massachusetts History Organizations

    Monday, June 1st, 2015 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
    Hogan Campus Center, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

    You are what you eat! Or are you? At this year’s conference, we will explore the meaning and availability of food in Massachusetts History: what we grow, what we eat, food and identity, scarcity and quality.

    Registration is now open -- Workshops will fill quickly, so register today!

    Ian Cheney, Documentary Filmmaker (The Search for General Tso and King Corn), and co-founder of Food Corps



    Mass Humanities  •  New England Archivists  •  Massachusetts Historical Society  •  Colonial Society of Massachusetts  •  University of Massachusetts Amherst Program in Public History  •  Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board (MA SHRAB)  •  University of Massachusetts Boston Public History and Archives Tracks and the Joseph P. Healey Library

    Brown University  •  Concord Museum  •  Freedom’s Way Heritage Association, Inc.  •  Gaining Ground  •  Harvard University  •  Historic Deerfield  •  Historic New England  •  Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners  •  Massachusetts Historical Society  •  New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center  •  New Bedford Whaling Museum  •  New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library  •  Northeast Document Conservation Center  •  Oakfield Research  •  Old Sturbridge Village  •  Red Tomato  •  The Old Manse  •  Tomaquag Museum  •  Tufts University  •  University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries  •  University of Massachusetts Amherst  •  Worcester Historical Museum  •  World Farmers, Inc.

    We are happy to welcome the 2015 MA SHRAB Forum to the Mass History Conference! MA SHRAB is holding two free sessions in the afternoon to which any Mass History Conference participant may attend. If you would like to ONLY attend these two SHRAB sessions, register for free on MA SHRAB Forum registration page.

  • 2015-04-09 9:08 AM | Michelle Romero

    Title: Becoming a Better Manager
    Instructor: Maria Bernier, Connecticut State Library
    Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
    Time: 9:30AM-4:30PM
    Location: Trinity College, Hartford, CT
    Raether Library and Information Technology Center
    Joslin Family 1823 Room (LITC 206/207)
    Parking: TBD
    Refreshments: A continental breakfast and sandwiches for lunch will be provided as part of your registration fee. Please inform us of any food allergies you have.

    Max Registration Number: 20


    Designed for the new manager, this workshop will focus on the management of people and problems. We’ll talk about the role of the manager, managing up as well as down, hiring, performance management, evaluation, letting someone go, and managing yourself. The workshop will also cover methods for dealing with non-personnel problems.

    Please come to the workshop with your questions, and be ready to share scenarios and experiences with the best and worst bosses you’ve had, observed or heard about. Often discussing real life examples leads to solutions for others!

    About the Instructor:

    Maria Bernier earned her MBA while working as the University Archivist at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and later served as the Assistant Director of the Redwood Library & Athenaeum in Newport where she directly and indirectly supervised 16 employees. She now works for the Connecticut State Library as a grant administrator.


    Early bird (April 8-April 29th)
    Members: $85.00
    Non-Members: $100.00
    Students: $42.50

    Advanced (April 30-May 31)
    Members: $105.00
    Non-Members: $120.00
    Students: $62.50

    Register on the NEA website today.

  • 2015-04-07 9:49 AM | Michelle Romero

    The 2015-2020 Strategic Plan Task Force was formed to write a new strategic plan for NEA, which will guide the organization through the next five years. Over the last few months, the Task Force has worked on the first step of the strategic planning process: drafting a vision and mission statement, and a series of core values for NEA.  These statements were discussed at the annual business meeting on March 21st and given a vote of confidence by the membership.  Below are the statements:

    Vision Statement
    Advancing innovative stewardship of the recorded past with a focus on the future.
    Mission Statement
    To connect and support the diverse individuals and organizations in New England responsible for the care of cultural heritage and the documentary record, through advocacy, education, communication, and cultivation of a strong, inclusive professional network.

    Core Organizational Values
    New England Archivists is committed to:
          — Advocating for archival practice and all individuals engaged in archival work and study.
          — Building community with an emphasis on inclusion and diversity.
          — Encouraging collaboration, innovation, experimentation, and creativity across institutions and areas of expertise.
          — Stewarding the historical record.
          — Promoting transparency, integrity, and professional ethics.

    These statements will act as a touchstone for the next phase of strategic planning: writing the goals and strategies that will guide the organization forward.  Be on the lookout, in the annual membership survey, for opportunities to tell us your ideas about what you'd like to see in the goals and strategies.

  • 2015-04-06 10:19 AM | Michelle Romero

    Dear NEA membership - 

    Last week, a message was relayed concerning the issues surrounding the State Historical Society of Iowa, with a link to a petition started by the Save Iowa History Coalition.  The message also stated that NEA sent a letter to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in support of that repository and our fellow librarians and archivists employed there.  NEA received a letter back from the State Archivist of Iowa which was included in that message. 

    Today, NEA received a letter from the Save Iowa History Coalition in rebuttal to that posted by the State Archivist of Iowa.  This letter can be found, in full, below this message and will be posted to our website shortly.   

    I encourage our membership, via the NEA listserv and social media, to discuss this matter and how best we can advocate for the archival collections in Iowa.  

    - Colin


    April 3, 2015 

    Dear members of the New England Archivists,

    On behalf of the Save Iowa History Coalition, this letter is in response to Iowa State Archivist Anthony Jahn’s message to your organization, posted on your website on April 1, in which he comments on the “Save Iowa History” online petition.  This petition currently has gathered 2,670 signatures.

    Mr. Jahn disagrees with the petition’s insistence that reduced funding has created a crisis for research collections at the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI).  It is encouraging to learn that the SHSI will not have its overall budget cut in FY 2015 or FY 2016.  But the fact remains that resources allocated to the research collections have been drastically reduced at both the Des Moines and Iowa City SHSI libraries and archives.  Signs indicate further reductions and ultimately the tragic closure of the Iowa City facility.

    Appropriations from the General Fund for the Historical Division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), which oversees the SHSI, fell from $3,796,919 in FY 2009 to $2,767,701 in FY 2013, a decline of 27 percent.  The appropriation for FY 2014 increased to $3,167,701, but this was for “enhanced museum exhibits and additional staffing,” according to Iowa’s Democratic Senate Staff.  The DCA has continued to starve the research collections.  The Iowa City library and archives dropped from seven full-time employees in FY 2012 to three as of July 1, 2015 (only two of those will be professional staff).  Hours for researchers have been reduced to three days a week, Thursday-Saturday.  There is no support staff beyond a group of dedicated volunteers.  The SHSI libraries and archives are being defunded, and access to Iowa history for citizens, students, and scholars is being restricted.  This alarms us.

    Mr. Jahn’s assertion that the collections are not “under any physical threat” is incorrect.  Spending on preserving, processing, and curating records has dwindled.  For many decades, part of the library budget went to newspaper preservation, with about $30,000 annually covering microfilming.  In 2009, the DCA ended this 50-year practice, and now the budget for preserving newspapers is zero.  Meanwhile, the budget for acquiring new materials peaked in the early 2000s at $82,000 per year and then fell off until it was eliminated in 2009.  The Iowa City Centennial Building, which houses some of the most valuable historical materials in the state, can barely open its doors to operate, let alone manage the collections with the attention and care required of a professional library or archival service.

    Fragile materials are endangered.  There is no funding to have a paper conservator stabilize documents.  Requests to bind books have been ignored.  Microfilm that is deteriorating due to acid problems cannot be treated.  The reduction of public service hours has forced the closing of the Special Collections reading room on the second floor of the Centennial Building, which for forty years provided additional security for rare archival materials.  Retrieval times are limited, and all materials now must be examined in the downstairs library.  Not only is this a disservice to researchers, it also places these materials at risk.

    SHSI library and archives collections are frozen in 2009.  There is a moratorium on acquisitions.  Subscriptions have lapsed, and there are no plans to renew them.  The SHSI may even discontinue its subscription to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which is used by nearly every reputable library and archive in the world and links the SHSI collections to the University of Iowa’s online catalog, in favor of an impractical plan to develop a collection management system of its own.  The OCLC is an indispensable source of reliable bibliographic and catalog records.  It is essential to a library’s inventory control system, helping to describe and track holdings and making possible the lending and borrowing of microfilm.  Taking the SHSI libraries out of the OCLC system will gut the SHSI’s professional reputation as a serious research library.

    The DCA and State Archivist assert that their assessment is ongoing and that no decisions about the SHSI collections have been made.  The DCA, however, is already in the process of hiring a construction manager for the renovation of the Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines.  The proposal to invest $93 million in this project is not reassuring unless it comes with a guarantee about preserving and ensuring access to collections and resuming acquisition of new materials.  Mr. Jahn claims that 35 percent, or $32 million, of the total $93 million investment “will address long overdue collection needs.”  But those numbers are contradicted by the DCA’s “State Historical Building Capital Project – DRAFT Milestone Schedule” of February 10, 2015, which allocates only $7.5 million, or 8 percent, to “Collections Processing, Digitization, Move & Rehousing.”  Not only is this a tiny percentage for collections overall, but it also appears that the money will be used primarily for downsizing, removing, and digitizing them. 

    Reports by the DCA’s consultant provide further evidence of such a plan.  The April 2012 “Facility Strategy” for the Des Moines building, prepared by the Canadian consulting firm Lord Cultural Resources, calls for reducing collections storage, expanding exhibit and program space, and providing “outdoor areas for gathering and organizing groups in order to leverage views of the Capitol” (p. 16).  Renovation for such areas would be on the east side of the building, and may require, as a July 2014 engineering and architecture report notes, demolishing the East Wing, where the archival collections currently reside.

    The 2012 Lord report disconcertingly recommends “considering changes to collecting mandates and scopes and de-accessioning items that are not in line with the collecting strategy” (p. 12).  The same firm’s June 2014 “Research Report” for the DCA mentions libraries and archives only in passing, as “ancillary” to the SHSI (pp. 3, 71, 165).  The library and archival collections are not ancillary; they have been the heart of the SHSI mission since 1857.  The report recommends a “downward streamlining” of the “State Archives program,” referring to both the State Archives and the SHSI libraries and archives.  It also urges elimination of “any duplication of efforts by consolidating the two research centers of the state library collection, thereby freeing staff, resources, and space for other program needs, such as building a website with services that the public can use at any time” (p. 190).   

    Although digitizing some library materials and posting them to a website is desirable, it would be prohibitively expensive to digitize more than a fraction of the SHSI collections.  Furthermore, the nuances related to individual sources and their organization are lost in digitization; digital access is fine for some purposes, but researchers require physical access to materials and the assistance of trained archivists.  Notably, Lord Cultural Resources’ 37-member team includes not a single person with archival training; two have advanced degrees in history, but the rest are museum planners, architects, “cultural engineers,” interpretive planners, and visual artists (per Lord Cultural Resources website).  

    Taken together, the shocking neglect of collections, the proposal for an expensive remodeling of the Des Moines building with few resources devoted to those collections, and Lord Cultural Resource’s short-sighted recommendations justify our fears for the future of SHSI’s libraries and archives in Des Moines and in Iowa City.  We hope that the DCA will change course to place a high priority on all SHSI and Iowa State Archives collections and to keep both SHSI research centers fully open, sufficiently staffed, and their preservation needs and efforts appropriately funded.

    Save Iowa History Coalition

    Tyler Priest, Associate Professor of History, University of Iowa (UI)

    Douglas Baynton, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Mériam Belli, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Jeffrey L. Cox, Professor of History, UI

    James L. Giblin, Professor of History, UI

    Michel Gobat, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Colin Gordon, Professor of History, UI

    Paul R. Greenough, Professor of History, UI

    Elizabeth Heineman, Professor and Chair of History, UI

    Michaela Hoenicke-Moore, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of
                History Emerita, UI

    Catherine Komisaruk, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Tom Arne Mitrød, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Michael E. Moore, Associate Professor of History, UI

    H. Glenn Penny, Professor of History, UI

    Jacki Thompson Rand, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Leslie A. Schwalm, Professor of History, UI

    Jennifer Sessions, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Landon Storrs, Professor of History, UI

    Allen Steinberg, Emeritus Associate Professor of History, UI

    H. Shelton Stromquist, Emeritus Professor of History, UI

    Katherine H. Tachau, Professor of History, UI

    Omar Valerio-Jiménez, Associate Professor of History, UI

    Stephen Warren, Associate Professor of History, UI 


  • 2015-04-01 9:51 AM | Michelle Romero

    Gregor Trinkaus-Randall circulated a petition last week on the NEA listserv that asked for your signature in support of the State Historical Society of Iowa.  According to the petition, that institution, in the face of a collections assessment, has seen hours cut and resources slashed; the future of public access to materials is uncertain.  Our thanks to Gregor for alerting membership to this initiative. 

    For more information and a link to that petition, see the State Historical Society of Iowa’s page on

    Earlier this week, Colin Lukens (President), Jennifer Gunter King (President-elect), and Jill Snyder (Immediate Past President) sent a letter in support of the State Historical Society of Iowa to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs on behalf of the NEA membership.  Yesterday, NEA received a reply from the State Archivist of Iowa Tony Jahn.  Mr. Jahn attempts to clear up some mis-information and suggests where NEA can position its advocacy efforts:  


    Good Afternoon Colin and New England Archivists,

    Thank you for the letter of support.  Over the last few days information has come to pass about the State Historical Society of Iowa‘s organizational strategy and collections management that is incorrectly grounded on conjecture and wild speculation.  Please know…

    The State Historical Society of Iowa:

    -- Did not cut its budget in FY 2015
    -- Is not facing any budget cuts for FY2016
    -- Nor are our collections under any physical threat.

    In fact, as I write, a bill is moving through the Iowa State General Assembly to revitalize the State Historical Building. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (agency that oversees the State Historical Society of Iowa) is extremely fortunate that Governor Terry Branstad proposed a $65 million investment, and if passed, there is the potential for monetary impact up to $93 million with additional funds coming from future private/public partnership.  65% of the allocation will be addressing capital building needs (including collection storage upgrades) while the remaining 35% will address long overdue collections needs (preservation, access, organization, etc.) and a visitor experience revitalization which would better showcase the collection.  The outcome of this legislation will not impact our current general fund allocation either way.

    Historic collections are the lifeblood of the State Historical Society of Iowa.  For more than 157 years our organization has and continues to be a leader in collecting, preserving and making accessible Iowa’s past.  We have an ongoing Master Planning process, and as it nears completion we look forward to continuing the conversation with Iowans and other interested parties detailing how our unprecedented initiative to improve history in Iowa will:

    -- Preserve our collections for all Iowans.
    -- Engage Iowans across all 99 Iowa counties through improved collection accessibility, preservation and sustainability.
    -- Inspire all Iowans to connect with their past for a brighter present and future.

    Thank you for your consideration and please share with your colleagues as their advocacy efforts would be very impactful if they were focused on the capital funding bill currently being considered, and why the State Historical Society of Iowa could generally benefit from an increased budget.

    History is a shared responsibility and thank you to the New England Archivists for being an integral part of preserving the Iowa story.

    Tony Jahn
    State Archivist, State Historical Library & Archives | 515.281.4895 |

  • 2015-03-27 8:52 AM | Michelle Romero

    NEA could not operate without our many volunteers who donate their time, efforts, and skills to organize our programs and events. It is because of them that NEA has such a thriving and dynamic community. The NEA Board would like to acknowledge in particular those volunteers whose terms ended between the Spring Meetings of 2014 and 2015.

    Thank you to the following members for your service to NEA:

    Awards and Scholarships Committee
    Elizabeth Cousins
    Orson Kingsley
    Veronica Martzahl

    Distinguished Service and Archival Advocacy Award Committees:
    Rosemary Davis
    Rosalie Gartner

    Education Committee
    Co-Chair: Jim DaMico
    Michael Lotstein
    Katie Seitz
    Anastasia Weigle

    Listserv Moderator:
    Kristen Albert

    Membership Committee:
    Co-Chair: Hanna Cluttterbuck-Cook

    Membership Secretary:
    Kristine (Reinhard) Sjostedt

    Nominating Committee:
    Tom Blake
    Adrienne Pruitt
    Gregor Trinkaus-Randall
    Darla White

    Alyssa Pacy

    Web Committee:
    Chair: Veronica Martzahl
    Chair: Kelliann Bogan

    Fall 2014 Program Committee
    Chair: Abby Cramer
    Keith Chevalier
    Michelle Chiles
    Genna Duplisea
    John Healey
    Keith Pendergrass
    Julie Swierczek

    Spring 2015 Program Committee
    Co-chair: Camille Torres Hoven
    Co-chair: Liz Francis
    Liz Andrews
    Erica Boudreau
    Renee DesRoberts
    Elise Dunham
    Frances Harrell
    Aliza Leventhal
    Peter Rawson
    Mary Richardson
    Aaron Rubinstein

    Spring 2015 Local Arrangement Committee
    Chair: Christina Zamon
    Meghan Bailey
    Krista Ferrante
    Rosalie Gartner
    Meridith Halsey
    Brendan Higgins
    Megan Schwenke
    Emily Tordo
    Jane Ward

  • 2015-03-19 8:51 AM | Michelle Romero

    The Program Committee has organized a new way to navigate the Spring 2015 MARAC/NEA Spring 2015 Joint Meeting. Enhance your experience during the meeting by downloading the mobile app, Guidebook. With this app you can can make personalized schedule and browse exhibitors, maps, and general show info.

    The app is compatible with iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Android devices. Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry users can access the same information via our mobile site at

    To get the guide, choose one of the methods below:
    1. Download ‘Guidebook’ from the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace
    2. Visit from your phone’s browser
    3. Scan this QR-code with your mobile phone (QR-Code reader required, e.g. ‘Red Laser’, ‘Barcode Scanner’)

    Please note: You may see two guides listed for our meeting. It does not matter which one you choose because the two guides are identical. If you have trouble downloading the Guidebook app or finding the Spring 2015's guide, find a member of the Program Committee or visit the registration desk for help.

    The guide will be listed under the “Download Guides” section of the application.

    See you tomorrow in Boston!

  • 2015-03-17 8:41 AM | Michelle Romero

    As we all get in gear for the Spring 2015 MARAC/NEA Joint Meeting this week, catch up on the meeting’s blog posts.

    There are posts with insights into the unique aspects of the Spring 2015 Meeting like posts on the lunch discussions and plenary speakers. And everyone might find out something interesting in the new members and student section.

    Continue your readings with posts about Boston like “Getting Around,” (did you know there is a new MBTA website/app for tracking the T?) “Things to Do,” and “Dining” where there is a special Google doc called “Dine Around.”

    Based on the popularity of the SAA’s Student and New Archives Professional (SNAP) Roundtable’s Lunch Buddies program at SAA, “Dine Around” is program that makes it easier for everyone to network and meet colleagues from both NEA and MARAC. Sign up to host a lunch and see who signs up to join you. Or browse the spreadsheet to find a group of people going to lunch when you are. Be adventurous and choose a group with no one you know!


    We’ve had an overwhelming, positive response to this year’s meeting, which is breaking attendance records. Because this is a joint meeting and we have a very popular program, we encourage you to prioritize which sessions you would like to attend. If there is a session you really want to attend, we recommend you get your seat early.

    If a session becomes crowded, find a member of the Program Committee or visit the registration desk for recommendations on alternate sessions to attend. Please note that session rooms will not have Wi-Fi, though this will be available in the hotel lobby.

    See you in Boston... very soon!

  • 2015-03-16 9:19 AM | Michelle Romero

    Who is Sands Fish?

    Sands Fish is a data scientist and computational artist focusing on the digital public sphere and communities of discourse in citizen media. He spent eight years as a senior software engineer at the MIT Libraries, and he is currently a research fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, a fellow at MIT’s HyperStudio, and a research affiliate at the MIT Center for Civic Media.

    And he will be our Saturday plenary talk at the Spring 2015 MARAC/NEA Joint Meeting.


    We've had an overwhelming, positive response to this year's meeting, which is breaking attendance records. Because this is a joint meeting and we have a very popular program, we encourage you to prioritize which sessions you would like to attend. If there is a session you really want to attend, we recommend you get your seat early. 

    If a session becomes crowded, find a member of the Program Committee or visit the registration desk for recommendations on alternate sessions to attend. Please note that session rooms will not have Wi-Fi, though this will be available in the hotel lobby. Should you want a break, the Local Arrangements Committee is also putting together a list of local attractions and recommended places to get food/coffee.

    See you in Boston... this week!

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