Written by Jim Havron, Center Archivist
I was fortunate to represent the Albert Gore Research Center at the Society of Tennessee Archivists Annual Conference in Knoxville this last week. It was an excellent conference with a good variety of sessions, entertaining speakers, and some time off to tour historic sites and museums. As the theme was “Red, White, Blue and Recorded,” a focus on politically related collections, we were right at home.
As archivist for the Center, I served on a panel that discussed their experiences with collecting political papers and what we saw as future issues that will affect this process. These included difference experiences with collecting papers from multiple donors, materials from different levels and types of public service, special collections such as political memorabilia, and the ever present issues relating to the increasing quantity of records that are created and maintained only in digital form. The conversations continued after the panel dismissed, with additional questions raised (at least to me) about providing access to the records, what methods of presentation could be used to highlight these collections, and how researchers used the material.
Middle Tennessee State University was well represented among the attendees, with several graduates serving as officers, committee chairs, or presenters. One of the winners of the John Thweatt Award for Archival Achievement, Ken Fieth of the Metropolitan Nashville Archives, is also a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.
The other winner of the Thweatt Award was Mark Lowe, a consultant, researcher, and genealogist who has strong ties to Middle Tennessee and has done much to encourage the use of archives by researchers who might otherwise rely upon less reliable sources. We also had the presence of our Student Scholarship winner, Noah Lasley, a UT Knoxville undergraduate who is considering the archives field.
The Society of Tennessee Archivists is a great place to establish or expand your professional network if you are a student. People who participate are not all archivists, as one can tell by the fact that a researcher/consultant won our highest award. I received my first job through connections I made in STA, and have helped to steer others to places of employment, internships, and experience-building volunteer work. Some of our members have backgrounds in preservation, museums, and traditional history. I hope that students will try to plan and attend next year’s meeting. The site and exact date are to be determined, but it will be in late October or perhaps early November. There are usually pre-conference workshops where one may learn more practical skills than are usually obtainable in a classroom. Every year STA awards two scholarships to meeting expenses to two students. Please consider applying.
“Listen Up! Discovering, Sharing, and Preserving Our Stories”
For more information on the Society of Tennessee Archivists, check out www.tennesseearchivists.org