Review of The American Archivist- L. Hillgartner
The journal I chose to analyze was the American Archivist. While at SLIS I hope to focus on Archives and expand my knowledge of the digital world being utilized within the modern archives. Gregory S. Hunter, the editor of the American Archivist, notes that the primary function of the publication is to, “reflect thinking about theoretical and practical developments in the archival profession, particularly in North America; aboutthe relationships between archivists and the creators and users of archives; and about cultural, social, legal, and technological developments that affect the nature of recorded information and the need to create and maintain it.” Although varied in their conversations The American Archivist presents a few reoccurring themes and questions, which included the representation of minority groups within archives, the development of technologies and how they will affect the accessibility and relevance in a 21st century archives, and the advancement of education to train future archivists.
The past two years of the American Archivist presents a variety of topics with a few a reoccurring themes or trends. I believe there are a variety of topics being presented because of the overall mission and purpose of the journal. Topics range from the simple notion of reference services in archives to the exploration of the Stasi police records to the people of the GDR. The American Archivist mission is to try and create relationships and dialogue about the “cultural, social, legal, and technological developments that affect the nature of recorded information and the need to create and maintain it.” The variety in the subject matter allows all areas of this mission to be attended to the fullest extent and allows one to understand where the issues lie within the field.
The American Archivist is also considered to be the journal of the profession, so in turn those within the profession decided what are the most urgent topics to be discussed. Hunter states, “As I’ve said before, The American Archivist is your journal. I welcome your involvement as an author or peer reviewer.” I believe The American Archivist acts as a platform for professionals to present their works, which allows for the variety of subject matter to be broader then other journals. It shares the history of the profession, studies and evaluations of various organizations, the exploration of hidden archives, legal issues within the field, and cultural ideals within archives. Like I stated earlier, The American Archivist does present common themes throughout the past two years, but also shows a wide range of topics. These varied conversations allow the reader to better understand what is relevant in the field of archives, what topic archivists are working on, and allows for broader subject learning.
One of the major themes seen in the archival field in the past decade is the further question of how to study, represent, and explore the underrepresented groups within the archives. These included, but are not limited to, women’s history, minority groups within the United States, peoples with disabilities, and Native Americans. One article states, “despite years of constructive discourse about documentation theory, the complex nature of identity, approaches to ethnicity, and the role of the archivist in light of postmodernism, the call for archivists to collect the documentary heritage of minorities and other historically marginalized groups remains largely unanswered.” Gernald Ham’s “The Archival Edge”, acts as the backbone for the desire to explore these unrepresented groups. Hailing from Ham’s 1974 “Call to Action” archivist have been trying to break free of the narrow research focus and expanded their collections to include those groups who were unrepresented during the time in which the focus was placed on the rich and powerful. Ham notes in 1975, “Our most important and intellectually demanding task as archivists is to make an informed selection of information that will provide the future with a representative record of human experience in our time.” Although stated in 1975, this statement still holds precedence if one looks at the articles presented in The American Archivist. The journal presents case studies, exploration of the topic, and practices on how archives can expand their collections to include those underrepresented groups.
Although technology has been at the forefront of conversations for the past decade, in the 2011-2013 editions of the American Archivist the transition into the digital age seems to be one of the most relevant themes to be presented within the field of archives. The accessibility and relevance of technologies in the archives provides vital discussion throughout the journal. In her introduction to presidential address, Helen R. Tibbo, writes in 2012:
We are now coming of age in the digital era. No longer children dabbling with small sets of electronic records or wondering what is the best resolution or scanner for digitizing analog content, we are now faced with managing and preserving a flood of born-digital records as well as personal papers that arrive in our repositories in digital form… It is now time for us to take that path and take up our mantle and our responsibility to appraise, manage, preserve, and make accessible and useful a world of digital content. It is time to take the foundations of our professional knowledge and apply them in new domains to new formats and materials. In the process, we will gain widespread relevance and recognition in society.
The American Archivist provides broad subject matter when it comes to technology. In order for technology to be success in assisting the archives entrance into the digital age, archivists need to know what tools are relevant to their successes in the transformation of the archival way. Discussion of technologies in The American Archivist included, but are not limited to, the digitization and availability on-line moving images and photos, the use of meta-data games in order to collect information about archival images in libraries and archives, open access publishing, the idea of a digital historiography, and the overall revolutionary impact the web has had on the field of archives. Technology is becoming the foundation of any archives in the 21st century. When reading The American Archivist, one is able to see the themes and discussions about new technologies and how it is transforming the ‘old archives’ to the new.
The final theme seen in The American Archivist is the advancement of education to train future archivists. Education is the gateway to archives success in the future. It can be said that all of these articles are considered learning tools for the archivist profession, but some pertain particularly to the education of future archivist. A few of these include topics like, the use of collaborative learning in graduate programs, ways in which archivist can become advocacies of the archives, and knowledge needed to provide reference services. One of the most interesting methodologies mentioned, is the idea of using collaborative learning in order to better understand the profession as a whole. The article focuses on the use of collaborative education for the understanding of archival arrangement and description. According to Donghee Sinn, “This method can provide an opportunity for students to apply theory to practice in real-life experiences. A well-planned and managed project in both venues can create the best synergy for professional education. We should aim to integrate two different kinds of learning (academic and practical) to enhance the quality of archival education.” I found this to be interesting, because as a current student I understand the need to enter the profession both with classroom knowledge and work experience. This is just one of the varieties of methodologies presented within The American Archivist. This journal is a education tool for the continual education of all archivists.
Although varied in their conversations, The American Archivist provides some underlining themes throughout the 2011-2013 editions. These included the representation of marginalized groups within the archives, the accessibility and relevance of technology in the 21st century archives, and the use of education to train new archivist. As a whole The American Archivist is a training tool for all archivists. Through the variety of topics presented one is able to see the trends most relevant to those within the profession.
Grimm, Tracy B. and Chon A. Noriega. “Documenting Regional Latino Arts and Culture: Case Studies for a Collaborative, community Oriented Approach,” The American Archivist, 76, no. 1(2013): 96-11
Hunter, Gregory S. “The American Archivist.” The Society of American Archivist,http://www2.archivists.org/american-archivist
Hunter, Gregory S. “Thoughts of Spring,” The American Archivist, 76, no. 1, (2013): 3- 6.
Tibbo, Helen R.. “On the Occasion of SAA’s Diamond Jubilee: A Profession Coming of Age in the Digital Era.” The American Archivist 75, no. 1 (2013): 16- 34.
Sinn, Donghee. “Collaborative Education Between Classroom and Workplace for Archival Arrangement and Description: Aiming for Sustainable Professional Education,” The American Archivist 76, no.1 (2013): 237-259
 Gregory S. Hunter. “The American Archivist. “The Society of American Archivist, http://www2.archivists.org/american-archivist
 Gregory S. Hunter. “Thoughts of Spring,” The American Archivist, 76, no. 1, (2013):6.
 Tracy B. Grimm and Chon A. Noriega. “Documenting Regional Latino Arts and Culture: Case Studies for a Collaborative, community Oriented Approach,” The American Archivist, 76, no. 1 (2013): 96-112.
 Tracy B. Grimm and Chon A. Noriega. “Documenting Regional Latino Arts and Culture: Case Studies for a Collaborative, community Oriented Approach.” The American Archivist, 76, no. 1 (2013): 96-112.
Helen R. Tibbo. “On the Occasion of SAA’s Diamond Jubilee: A Profession Coming of Age in the Digital Era.” The American Archivist 75, no. 1 (2013): 16- 34.
 Donghee Sinn. “Collaborative Education Between Classroom and Workplace for Archival Arrangement and Description: Aiming for Sustainable Professional Education,” The American Archivist 76, no.1 (2013): 237-259.