The Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting was held in Portland, Oregon from July 23 to 29. As always, the University of Texas was well-represented by faculty, alumni and students, including several iSchool students and recent graduates who presented their research.
Second-year student Will Clements presented a lightning talk at the SNAP Section meeting about the Born-digital Access Research Project he has been working on with Kathryn Antonelli and Valencia Johnson as part of their work as Princeton University Graduate Fellows. Clements spent the summer working at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library as the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow.
Current SAA-UT student chapter president Grace Hansen presented a poster with recent graduate David Bliss about their work collecting oral histories at the Women’s March. Their poster was titled “Documenting the Women’s March on Austin, January 21, 2017: Assembling a Systematic Archival Documentation Effort on Short Notice.” Recent graduate Nikki Koehlert presented a poster about our student chapter’s activities over the last year.
We also had students present on panels. Chido Muchemwa presented a paper titled “Decolonizing Archives in the Age of Authoritarianism” during the Graduate Student Paper Presentations session. Itza Carbajal gave a lightning-talk during the session “Intersectionality in Identity-Focused Archives.” Both these students were honored at the second plenary. Muchemwa received the Harold T. Pinkett Minority Student Award. Carbajal was honored as one of the 2016 – 2018 ARL/SAA Mosaic Program Fellows.
As wonderful as the presentations, workshops and section meetings were, perhaps the most enriching part of the conference was talking to the attendees. Second-year student Kate Orazem said “My favorite thing about SAA was meeting recent graduates and hearing about their experiences as new professionals in the archives field.” It was also wonderful being able to speak to so many of the people we regularly read in our archival courses at the iSchool including Jarrett Drake, Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez, Cal Lee and Michelle Caswell who visited the iSchool earlier this year.
When asked if she would recommend attending such a conference to other students, Kate Orazem said she would as “I found the conference valuable. As a student trying to orient herself in the field, I got a better sense of the breadth of professional environments in which archivists work.” Grace Hansen’s response to the same question was “SAA was an excellent opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with leading archivists and scholars who are pushing the field towards a better, more equitable future. I came away with a lot to think about, and am energized to bring new perspectives to my work and studies for the remainder of my time at the iSchool. I would highly recommend attending a conference to any student who has the opportunity to do so.”
Students should not allow the cost of attending a conference prevent them from attending one. The iSchool has professional development awards that can be used to fund travel to a conference where a student is presenting a paper. Many conferences also have travel awards reserved for students. Local conferences are also a way to cut down on costs. The Society of Southwest Archivists have a travel scholarship for students and their 2018 conference will be held in San Antonio. Many archival students have also benefited from attending conferences in adjacent fields like the Texas Library Association’s conference.
Society of American Archivists – University of Texas Student Chapter (SAA-UT)
SAA-UT is a student organization of the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout the academic year, SAA-UT invites guest speakers, arranges archival education events, and organizes trips to area repositories as a way of expanding UT’s archival-education opportunities.
Our mission, as outlined by the national organization, is to introduce and integrate new archivists into the profession, provide additional focus for students to discuss archival issues, and promote archival interests within the University, academic departments, and the public at large.