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Friday, July 28 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
507. Pop-Up: Getting Personal: Rethinking What 'Personal' Means in Archives

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This session explores the meaning and potential of the ‘personal’ in archival theory and practice. Typically, archivists understand personal archives as a category of record, a particular thing: what if we think about ‘personal’ as a relationship or approach to records, recordkeeping and use? How might this change how we think about records, including institutional records, and the different functions record-keepers undertake?    
Two presenters are working on a project reconsidering personal archives to show that what makes a record ‘personal’ is the relationship between the record and its activator (to borrow Eric Ketelaar’s term). The other two presenters recently completed a survey of Canadian archivists’ understanding and experiences of secondary trauma. We’ll begin with a brief introduction to these projects and how they reframe what ‘personal’ means in relation to the records we care for, how we care for them, and our roles as caretakers. Through this introduction, we’ll begin to situate archives as a “contact zone” (CLIR, Terra Cognita: Graduate Students in the Archives, 2016), characterized by different personal relationships and interactions.    
We’ll then break into groups, facilitated by the presenters, to discuss particular questions.
These might include: 
  • What does ‘personal’ mean in archives?
  • When does archival work get personal?
  • When might the personal become problematic in archival work?
  • Is there room for the ‘personal’ in an institutional context?
  • How does making room for the personal affect the archival endeavor?

The session will end with groups coming together for a larger discussion about archives and relationships: Does something need to change in the archival mindset and practice to accommodate and embrace the personal? If yes, what might it be? And how does this start to happen? Notes will be taken and circulated via a Google doc; it’s hoped this session will spark ongoing discussion within the archival community.


Jennifer Douglas

avatar for Allison Mills

Allison Mills

Researcher, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Center
avatar for Katie Sloan

Katie Sloan

Project Archivist, UBC Athletics
Katie Sloan is a recent graduate of the Dual Masters of Archival Studies and Masters of Library and Information Studies program at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She currently works as a Project Archivist at UBC's Athletics & Recreation Department.
avatar for Jennifer Vanderfluit

Jennifer Vanderfluit

Jennifer is a recent graduate of the Masters of Archival Studies and Library & Information Studies programs at the University of British Columbia, and holds bachelors degrees in history and art history/museum studies from the University of Lethbridge.

Friday July 28, 2017 2:00pm - 3:00pm PDT
A105 Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE MLK, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232