Archiving as Social Justice Practice
UC Berkeley HUM C132/ ENV DES C132
2022 Summer Bridge program, sponsored by College of Environmental Design
July 5-August 11, 2022

Course description

"Looking back, immediately behind us is dead ground. We don't see it, and because we don't see it, there is no period so remote as the recent past. The historian's job is to anticipate what our perspective of that period will be."  - Professor Irwin in 'The History Boys,' 2006.

Social justice archiving class UC Berkeley 2022 In this project-based, community-engaged course, you will learn what history is made of. You’ll learn about the role of conventional and community-based archives and how such institutions support creative and productive scholarship through the provision of primary sources. Knowledge is a moving target - we are surrounded by news, facts, and opinions that often lack true supporting evidence. This course looks at the role of archives and special collections in helping us, and our communities, to better formulate an honest world view.

Although some archives and special collections are well-known, many more serve marginalized or specialized audiences and require extra effort to reveal them in the landscape of knowledge sources. Through site visits and online research you will examine the pros and cons of different repositories. You’ll learn that there is an enormous amount of material that helps us understand history that has never been put online. You’ll learn how to find, analyze, and organize materials such posters, menus, brochures and other ephemera that can be important sources in the writing of history.

You will be not only a user of archives, but a contributor. We’ll challenge the notion that history is neutral and the sole product of established academic scholars. The centerpiece of this course is engagement with a community partner, the Freedom Archives, one of several collections presented in the class which offer unconventional and nontraditional research settings. Working with the Freedom Archives, you’ll learn archival processes and techniques that will serve you well in your undergraduate career and beyond.

Syllabus (short version)

Week 1: What are Archives For?
Session 1
Welcome to class, review of course (instructor)
Student self-introductions (class participation)
Overview of archives, libraries, and special collections. Also, archival tools and techniques. (instructor)

What are primary sources and why do they matter? How do we show evidence to support what we “know”? (instructor)

Assign fieldwork #1 - Architecture of the archive: buildings and digital structures. Visit a UC Berkeley special collection from list provided by instructor and identify an “analog-only” (non-digitized) item that interests you.
Deliverable: Write a 500-word report due July 26, see suggested topics in July 27 session.

Assign reading #1
Deliverable: Write a 400-word response on the readings; consider the discussion topics described in July 6 session. Due EOD July 5.
-“Cataloging as political practice” Lincoln Cushing, 2015 [5 pp]
-“When ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Went Viral: How an obscure in-house WWII corporate poster became a popular progressive meme” Lincoln Cushing 2022 [3pp]

Session 2
Discuss reading assignment #1 (class participation)
Discussion topics:
How does cataloging add to knowledge-building?
Why are primary source materials helpful in advancing knowledge?
Can you come up with contemporary examples of “fake news” or sloppy research?

Archival practice and tools, using primary sources to develop critical thinking (instructor)

Classroom workshop #1: Instructor brings in several boxes of social movement flyers. Groups of three students pick a folder that appeals to them and after discussing and reviewing contents select three representative samples to digitize. Instructor guides group in running documents through scanner and drop files to student laptops. Group then divides up scans, each student adds relevant metadata, and group collaboratively writes a sample finding aid to folder contents.  Class then looks at results and discusses.

Assign preparation for field trip to Freedom Archives – students should look at their website and familiarize themselves with their collection and services

Week 2: What does an archive look like?
Freedom Archives
Session 3
Field trip #1 to Freedom Archives (off campus, Berkeley)
See how an independent community-based institutional special collection is set up and talk with staff.
Deliverable: Write a 400-word response on the field trip; consider the discussion topics described in July 13 session.

Session 4
Discuss field trip #1 (class participation)
Discussion topics:
-What feature did you find most useful about FA?
-How does an institution such as FA compare to an institutional archive such as the Bancroft Library?

Mapping archives in cities. Where are non-academic archives and special collections held in the SF Bay Area? In the US? (class participation)

Assign reading #2
Deliverable: Write a 400-word response on the readings; consider the discussion topics described in July 14 session.

-“Search Terms Up for Debate: The Politics and Purpose of Library Subject Headings” Gross, Tina. 2022-02-15. [3pp]
-Berman, Sanford. 2014. Prejudices and antipathies: a tract on the LC subject heads concerning people. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co. [first published 1971]. [Students should find subject areas of personal interest, suggest reading 10pp]
Recommend purchasing book; online segments here:
-Cushing, Lincoln. 2003. “Proposal to incorporate a ‘Labor Organization Representative’ job title category in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook.” [3pp]

Assign preparatory requirement for classroom workshop 2
For next class session, cluster into groups of 3 students. Each student will bring four items (book, photo, tool, etc.) for which you will together create original item-level catalog records and a finding aid for the “collection.”

Session 5
Discuss reading #2 (class participation)
Discussion topics:
How do personal and cultural biases distort institutional descriptions of reality?
How can these errors be changed or worked around?

Classroom workshop #2
Cataloging is the process of identifying key aspects of items in a collection to better interpret it and assist finding it later.
Classroom will cluster into groups of three students. Each student will bring four items (book, photo, tool, etc.) for which you will take photos with your phone. One of you will set up an account in CatalogIt for this temporary group, and then upload all images. As you do that, you will have to name each item to identify it in the catalog and follow the “NEXT” step to place it in the catalog structure offered by the application, and save the item. Then review your dozen group items one by one, click on the pencil icon upper right, and select 7 relevant catalog fields (example: “made/created” artist and date); required field is “Acquisition  Acquired from” to indicate your own role. Populate those fields with data. Lastly, create a separate Word document finding aid for the group “collection.”
[Digital tool used: CatalogIt online free personal version, requires registration.]

Discussion questions for class:
-How do the items selected relate to each other?
-Why were those catalog fields chosen?
-What challenges arose?

Week 3: How are archives built?Docs Populi archive
Session 6
Field trip #2 to instructor’s Docs Populi archive [off campus, Berkeley]
See how an independent community-based special collection is set up, observe the advantages and disadvantages of non-institutional archives.
Deliverable: Students will write a 400-word response. Consider the discussion topics described in the July 20 session. Due EOD July 19.

Session 7
Discuss impressions of field trip #2 (class participation)
Discussion questions:
-How would you describe this special collection compared to others? Consider size, scope, quality of holdings, range of content, and accessibility.

Classroom workshop #3
Groups of three students will use their phones to record a 5-minute statement about how long their family has lived in California. The instructor will run the audiofiles through an online transcription service, then each student in the group will review another student’s text and correct/confirm it. The whole class will then discuss the process.

Check-in on group archive assignment. Progress on cataloging/describing. What catalog/metadata will be added? (class participation)

Bancroft Library
Session 8
Field trip #3 to the Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley)
Deliverable: Students will write a 400-word response. Consider the discussion topics described in the July 27 session.

The Bancroft Library is one of the best special collections in the country, yet is sometimes perceived as elite and inaccessible. This visit will offer an overview of the range of materials available and how to make the best use of this resource.

Week 4: What kinds of archives are out there?Lisbet Tellefsen
Session 9
Guest lecturer #1– Lisbet Tellefsen, independent community archivist (in class)
You don’t have to be an academic to contribute to building historical knowledge. Ms. Tellefsen has followed her passion for social justice and over the years built several major collections.

Assign reading #3
Deliverable: Students will write a 400-word response. Consider the discussion topics described in the July 27 session.

-Nestle, Joan, 1979. “Notes on Radical Archiving from a Lesbian Feminist Perspective,” Gay Insurgent 4/5 (Spring 1979), 11. 4. [1pp]
-Young, Jeffrey R. 2012. “For Archivists, ‘Occupy’ Movement Presents New Challenges.” Chronicle of Higher Education. [2pp]

Session 10
Discuss fieldwork assignment #1 (class participation)
-Which special collection did you visit?
-How would you evaluate the physical space and location?
-What analog-only item did you find and why was it important?

Discuss impressions of field trip #3 (Bancroft Library)
Discussion questions:
-How would you describe this special collection compared to others? Consider size, scope, quality of holdings, range of content, and accessibility.

Discuss reading #3 (class participation)
Discussion topics:
-What are the political and personal challenges of capturing controversial community history for the future?
-What are some techniques for assuring that archival materials will not be disrespectfully interpreted or used?

Discuss learnings from guest lecturer #1 (class participation)
Discussion topics:
-What roles do collecting/curating/cataloging play in building knowledge?

Session 11
Group check-in on personal archive assignments (class participation)

Classroom workshop #4
Catalog records can contain errors and omissions. Students will look through the All Of Us Or None online poster archive hosted by the Oakland Museum of California,
to find and select 5 items that have missing dates (example: “Late 20th - Early 21st Century”), and identify an actual or approximate year of publication using online research tools such as a newspaper archive and reverse calendar.  Document your work. Corrected dates will be submitted for entry in the OMCA catalog.

Discussion topics:
-What examples did you find?
-How did you determine a precise or approximate date?

UC Berkeley ethnic studies libraryWeek 5: How do you create an online archive?
Session 12
Guest lecturer #2– Nathaniel Moore, field trip to UCB Ethnic Studies Library
Nathaniel is an archivist with The Freedom Archives and UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Library, and is deeply committed to using special collections as a tool for community empowerment.

Session 13
Discuss learnings from guest lecturer (class participation)
Discussion topics:
-How does a special collection such as ESL fit into the constellation of UC libraries? Of other “ethnic” libraries?

Classroom workshop #5
Working in groups of four, students work together on a GoogleSites website (tutorial will be offered beforehand) in which they present the archival materials they are organizing by looking at the large shared monitor.  Students will critique each other's designs and come up with a consensus design.

Assign reading #4
Deliverable: Students will write a 400-word response. Consider the discussion topics described in the August 8 session.

-Springer, Kimberly. 2015. “Radical Archives and the New Cycles of Contention.” Viewpoint Magazine, Issue #5. [4pp]
-Lee, Yoonhee. 2019. “Towards Universal Access to Knowledge: The Invisible Labor of Digitizing,” Progressive Librarian issue #47. [9pp]

Session 14
Second field trip to Freedom Archives to discuss group archive project progress and get feedback.

Week 6: We finish and reflect on our home-grown archive
Session 15
Discuss reading #4 (class participation)
Discussion questions:
-How does evolving technology help, or hurt, archival efforts?
-What are the advantages and disadvantages of privately-held or small-scale community archives?

Group archive project assignment due
This task summarizes the Grassroots newspaper collection being donated to Freedom Archives. Each student was assigned one issue of the paper to review and write a 100-word item-level description. In addition, each student will write a 500-word finding aid (describing the whole collection). These will then be shared and discussed in class, resulting in a single group-edited version to go to FA. Things to consider before submitting your part of the group project:
-Is my writing clear and concise?
-Does my item description align with formats used by FA?
-Has my research added any value to the item being described?

Session 16
Review of group archive project presented on class web page (class participation)
Discussion questions:
-Does the web page accurately show the relationship between C-132 students and community partner archive?
-Does the site encourage viewers to want to learn more about the materials shared and additional content at FA?

Deliverable: final written reflection on what you have learned in this class (700 words). What parts of the course were helpful to you? Which ones were confusing or irrelevant? Do you feel that this better prepares you for a successful path through college?

Session  17
Review of how class went, suggestions for improvement, celebrate our mutual experience.

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