While many archivists have evolved their professional scope to bring diversity into their collections, we posit that much can still be done. One area for growth is greater work by archival professionals to partner with communities to help them tell and preserve their own stories, incorporating a community’s own perspective and goals. This article discusses the community-based project between the Cache Valley Utah Drug Court and Utah State University Library’s Special Collections & Archives. The project was conceived and co-managed by Andrew Dupree (name used with permission), a participant and now graduate of the Cache Valley Drug Court. Perhaps the only project of its kind as of this writing, this effort gives voice to a historically excluded community in archival records. This article examines the importance of ensuring that archivists include the voices of a diverse community in their collections by actively partnering to facilitate community participation in framing and building these collections. This approach will make archival collections more diverse, socially just, and inclusive, especially with historically excluded communities.
Randy Williams is Fife Folklore Archives Curator and Oral History Specialist at Utah State University Library’s Special Collections & Archives and affiliated faculty with USU’s Folklore Program. Along with managing the world-renowned Fife Folklore Archives, she directs USU’s community-based fieldwork projects, bringing the voices of diverse people from the Intermountain West, many historically excluded, into the Archives. Along with Elisaida Méndez, she received a Human Ties award for their work on the Latinx Voices Project and was a 2017 USU Diversity Award recipient. With Professor Lisa Gabbert, she directed the 2015 and 2017 Library of Congress/USU Ethnographic Field School for Cultural Documentation. Williams is on the Board of Directors of Utah Humanities, the Folklore Society of Utah, and the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, and she is the Archival Liaison for the American Folklore Society. Jennifer Duncan is the Book Curator and Unit Head for the Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library’s Special Collections and Archives. She is also the subject librarian for the History Department. Jennifer has a 20-year history working with library Collection Development at Utah State, Columbia University, and Texas Christian University. Transitioning from the Head of General Collections to the Head of Special Collections in 2015, her goal has been to support Utah State’s land-grant mission by opening special collections more broadly to a diverse constituency of users.
Erratum from Randy Williams and Jennifer Duncan for Voices from Drug Court: Partnering to Bring Historically Excluded Communities into the Archives (JWA 2019:10:1 article 8). Submitted 20 February 2021. The first and most important tenet of ethnographic and archival work is strict adherence to ethics: work to mitigate (do no) harm. Since the publication of this article, the authors have grown increasingly uneasy about their usage of the terms “drug addicts” (twice) and “recovering addicts” (once) in this article. Using the word “addict” to describe a person is pejorative and triggering and does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the authors—or fit with the Opioid stigma-reduction work that Williams and USU partners are engaged in at present. (Note: these terms were also used by others in the article; we suggest that the term was likely not meant in a negative way, but rather employed as heard.) Thus, the authors encourage readers to substitute person-first language that recognizes the dignity of people depicted in this work, such as using “people who use drugs” and “people in recovery” in place of the descriptors noted above. One important facet of community partnerships by ethnographers or archivists must be the willingness for these professionals to acknowledge wrongs they may intentionally or unintentionally introduce into projects and work resolutely to improve their ethnographic and archival work. Academic humility is key to true partnerships in ethnography and archiving.
Williams, Randy and Duncan, Jennifer
"Voices from Drug Court: Partnering to Bring Historically Excluded Communities into the Archives,"
Journal of Western Archives: Vol. 10
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol10/iss1/8