The annual conference for the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) took place in Asheville on Thursday and Friday.  This year’s theme was “Working together: documenting diverse dialogues and communities.”

The plenary session featured Dr. Darin Waters, Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.  His talk was entitled “Assisting the Discovery of Ourselves.”  He recounted some of his experiences with noted historian John Hope Franklin and pointed us to Franklin’s 1969 article published in the American Archivist entitled “Archival Odyssey: Taking Students to the Sources.”

Waters also spoke of his support for the project at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office, which led an effort to identify and digitize slave deeds found in their records.

Waters asserted that history is about identity and explained that archives allow us to evaluate people’s efforts at self-determination.  He provided the example of an 1865 letter that a former slave, Jourdon Anderson, wrote to his master.  He also contended that archives are necessary to dispel false narratives and correct collective memory.

Waters is taking his viewpoints beyond the campus with a radio show with fellow professor Marcus Harvey.  Frank Stasio of WUNC’s The State of Things interviewed them earlier this week about their broadcasts.  SNCA member Gene Hyde, head of Special Collections at UNC Asheville, was a recent guest on their show.

 

Meredith Evans, the director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, delivered the keynote address.  She suggested four keys to archival work:

  • collecting – It’s no longer feasible to collect upon the death of the donor because electronic materials need to be collected in real time.
  • connecting – Archivists need to connect not just with donors of materials but also for purposes of funding and with users.
  • collaborating – Evans defined this as doing work with people who work somewhere else (and emphasized that all must pull their weight!).
  • community – She contended it’s our social responsibility to spend time with people in our community.
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