Project Spotlight: Women’s March on Washington Archives Project

Women’s March on Washington Archives Project
Danielle Russell, Southern Maryland Studies Center
Katrina Vandeven, MLIS candidate at University of Denver

About the collection
We are a group of archivists stemming from the SAA Women Archivists Section (formerly roundtable) who, having discussed the social and political importance of the January 21, 2017 Women’s Marches, wanted to ensure the preservation of women’s voices and responses to politics and legislation in wake of the intensely controversial 2016 elections. With time to plan and strategize, we intend to document this in a way that captures the movement’s use of new-wave grassroots activism unlike other more spontaneous events in recent protest history.

Each march is connected to a larger movement of not only the Women’s March on Washington D.C., but also the grassroots activism making it possible. This has become a large part of early 21st century political history that advocates for human rights, standing against minority adversity, and full equality for women. The significance of these marches is reminiscent of the 1995 Rally for Women’s Lives and the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, and this mass action expects at least 150,000 protesters in Washington D.C., and over 250,000 people total in other individual marches. To learn more about the marches’ mission and principles, please visit

Currently, we are working on a two-pronged approach: one repository for oral histories, and then finding state or regional level repositories for people who attend the national and sister marches. We have gotten a Facebook group (link here) going to create action plans, outreach email templates, etc.

On the physical materials side of the operation, we are looking for willing repositories for physical materials from the sister marches— generally, we are hoping for one state or regional repository to take physical materials collected at their respective state sister march (i.e. Boston, Austin, Des Moines). We’re hoping to nail down a singular repository who would be willing to house physical materials from the national march in D.C., too. The physical materials will be collected by a point-person volunteer at the sister march, which can either be a volunteer we prepare with deeds of gift, etc. or someone of the repository’s own choosing.

We are also collecting oral histories in order to document the local and national grassroots movement “Women’s March on Washington” to show the scope of the movement, the range of reasons women are marching, and so that diverse women’s political resistance may be documented in their own words as they are so often silenced and lost to history. Oral history expectations and standards are currently being drafted, and volunteer oral historians will meet virtually to make sure everyone is on the same page.

The end goal is to have an aggregate digital platform that will allow cohesive research. This way we can connect the materials at these various repositories without requiring one institution to take on all of the appraisal, processing, metadata, etc. The platform will most likely connect the digital materials (photographs, oral histories, etc.) first, strictly out of ease. However, we are hoping that as finding aids are created and as materials, eventually, are digitized, the project will have preserved and made accessible a wide array of materials documenting this impressive raising of diverse women’s voices across the United States, and even abroad.

What about this project or collection has been most rewarding?
We are creating this documentation/collecting strategy from the ground up which is incredibly invigorating as an activist, and working with professional archivists and archives students of various experiences and backgrounds has been amazing. It is also fascinating to see how other professions fit into the framework of helping us collect these materials== we have documentary film makers, photographers, and historians that want to help any way that they can!

What about this project or collection has been most challenging?
This kind of national-level coordination is basically new to all of us involved, which makes things tricky. We’re doing a large portion of our organizing via Facebook and Google Docs, and it’s all a learning process.

What tools/software/methods are you using in this project or collection?
We are using Google Drive and Open Science Framework (OSF) for storing the born digital materials (oral histories and photographs). Going forwards, tools and software are to be determined. We are looking at a variety of things like Omeka and Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS).

In regards to outreach methods, we are using a lot of social media, as well as a wide variety of listservs. We are also using Google Docs and Sheets in this planning stage.

Interested in getting involved?
Please let us know if you have any further questions, or suggestions! We are still working out some of the finer details at rapid pace, and questions force us to work some of those out before we know they exist. Join our Facebook group if you are interested in participating, and you can contact Danielle and Katrina at

We want to feature your collection on the SAA WAR blog! Tell us about your project here.


Contribute to our blog!

One of the Women ARchivists Section’s (WArS) goals for next year is to increase communication between the members about what we’re all collectively doing. So many of the members of this roundtable have started their own archives-related direct action as a response to the election. The WArS steering committee invites you to share information about your projects and contribute to our blog.

Please include: your name, institution, the title of collection or digital project you’re working on, the scope of that collection or project, lessons learned and a URL or link. We love to hear about and share your projects in general, but we’re especially interested in anything our members are working on that centers intersectional social justice and/or community-driven work. Send entries to Co-chair Stacie Williams.

Post-election Twitter chat

WAR Post-election Twitter ChatWAR will be holding a post-election Twitter chat, where we will discuss questions and hopefully come up with some action items that we can all do in our repositories and communities to try and move forward in a way that reflects democracy and humanity and our professional responsibilities as archivists.

This Friday, November 11, 2016. 12:30pm-1:30pm EST on Twitter. Follow @WomenArchivists and use #saawar. We hope you can join in.


Remembering Brenda Banks

On July 25, 2016, archivist, colleague, mentor, friend, and leader Brenda Banks passed away. The Women Archivists Roundtable created a post on the blog where colleagues and friends could share their memories and thoughts about Banks for WAR to add to a compilation post. Thank you to everyone who shared comments!

Rebecca Hankins:

The Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable (AACR) and the large number of African American archivists are testimony to the strength of Brenda Banks contributions to archives and the archival profession. She will be missed!

Audree D. Irons:

I first met Brenda in the early 90’s while working as the Administrative Assistant for the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College. I remember being so impressed with her simply because she was the FIRST African American archivist I’d ever met which was unheard of! My most memorable moment of her in action was when she assisted Spelman in obtaining Audrey Lorde papers! She will be missed, but not forgotten. Thank you Brenda for sharing your passion and expertise in documenting our history for future generations as well as opening up this field for other African American women to follow.

Chiyoko Ogawa CA:

It was late 1994 when Brenda visited Japan as a member of ICA PDP–program for disaster preventiion. Besides many official meetings PDP members found time for sight seeing and visited an ancient shrine at Kamakura. It was a beautiful day and we happened to see a traditional Japanes wedding ceremony.


Brenda was fierce! I will never forgot the time in the 1990s she cornered me at the Georgia Archives – I was doing some consulting there and was also managing editor of the SGA journal “Provenance” at the time.

She came at me, and I could see by her face she was displeased. I trembled. Brenda demanded to know why a particular Georgia archivist had published with MAC and not with SGA!? I hand no clue, and I don’t think that was a good answer….oh, my….I made it my business from that moment on to attempt to find out who of our archivists planned to publish where.

Brenda was full of surprises! Another great memory I have of her centered on our attending an SAA meeting in the mid to late 1990s, it may have been in St. Louis, or Pittsburgh. One evening several of us were in Brenda’s room chatting. Suddenly she looked at me, grabbed my hand and said “I’m going to give you a manicure!” What a shock, especially after our GA Archives run-in. Well, she gave me a manicure right then and there, and it was delightful. I will never forget it.

Brenda was one-of-a-kind and will be missed by all who knew her.

Dianne Valentin:

This is such sad news.

James F. Cartwright:

Having just read of Brenda’s passing, I belatedly write to you to say I appreciate Brenda’s friendliness and welcoming when I was a relatively new archivist. Though she was heavily involved in various leadership roles, she also took time to learn my name, to say hello. This was very important to me. She was highly professional and contributed much to the archival profession. Her leadership and scholarship are well established. I hope you find consolation in your loss.


In Memoriam: Brenda Banks

Brenda Banks, the 51st President of the Society of American Archivists (1995-1996), former President of the Society of Georgia Archivists, SAA Fellow, and President and CEO of Banks Archives Consultants, sadly passed away July 25, 2016. For additional information about colleague and mentor Brenda Banks, please see the Society of Georgia Archivists’s post and SAA’s post.

Submit your memories about Brenda Banks below so that WAR can create a compilation post in memory of her impact on the archives profession. Please include your name with your comment only if you want us to mention it in the post.

Three Questions: Luciana Duranti

Luciana Duranti has been since 1987 a professor of archival theory, diplomatics, and the management of digital records in the master’s and doctoral archival programs of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies of the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is also Faculty Associate Member of the UBC College for Interdisciplinary Studies, Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre, and Affiliate Full Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Duranti is Director of the Centre for the International Study of Contemporary Records and Archives (CISCRA— and of InterPARES, the largest and longest living publicly funded research project on the long-term preservation of authentic electronic records (1998-2018), the Digital Records Forensics Project, and the Records in the Clouds Project. She is co-Director of the Law of Evidence in the Digital Environment Project. She has published more than 150 referred articles/book chapters and 5 books.Luciana Duranti

Duranti is a fellow of both the SAA and the Association of Canadian Archivist (ACA). She has been an SAA Council Member (1992-95) and the only person to serve as President of both the SAA (1998-9) and the ACA (2016-18).

Duranti has been honoured with the British Columbia Faculty Associations’ Academic of the Year Award (1999), and her research has been recognized in 2006 with the Emmett Leahy Award for her contributions to records management; the British Columbia Innovation Council Award—annually presented to “an individual who has opened new frontiers to scientific research;” and the Killam Research Prize; and in 2007 with the Jacob Biely Research Prize—the University of British Columbia’s “premier research award.”  In 2012 she was awarded the Inaugural ARMA International “Award for Academic Excellence in teaching, research, and contribution to the global citizenry,” and in 2014 she became one of the very few humanists worldwide ever inducted as a member of the Academy of Galileo Galilei in Padua. But the award she cherishes the most is the one that introduced her to the SAA and the North American archival profession, which she received in 1985: the Oliver Wendell Holmes Award!

What interested you in becoming an archivist?

My answer is from a piece I wrote on a blog called “How I started,” published by the UK and England Archives and Records Association Section for New Professionals, because I cannot find better words to explain how it happened. My statement on the blog is much longer and illustrated with pictures, so, if you would like to read it all, the posting is here:

“When I was a teenager I wanted to study math and I knew I would never want to be a teacher, because in my family everybody was a professor and all our meal conversations were about students: not much fun! What happened to that plan?

I grew up in Italy and, at the time of starting university, it became clear to me that, if I took math, I would end up being a high school teacher, because in those times girls were not expected to take jobs in business and industry or scientific research, while humanistic subjects offered more opportunities. I studied classics and history and I became passionate about the latter, so I asked my thesis supervisor whether she thought I should continue with historical studies to become a professional researcher. She responded that I was “far too brilliant to be an historian” and I should rather become an archivist. I knew little about archives, which I mostly experienced as a user in the process of writing my thesis, but I was fascinated by the Tabularium, the archives of ancient Rome (, and its function in the context of the Roman democratic republic, so I followed my professor’s advice.

Thus, I studied archival science and competed for the position of state archivist. In 1978 I became state archivist at the State Archives of Rome, and started working in one the most beautiful architectural structure of the baroque times, Borromini’s Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza.”

Who has influenced you in your career?

Definitely my archival studies professors: Leopoldo Sandri, Arnaldo D’Addario and Elio Lodolini for Archival Science, Alessandro Pratesi for Diplomatics, and Giulio Battelli and Armando Petrucci for Palaeography. My mind set was shaped by these scholars, who were giants in all of Europe—not only Italy, and whose writings still guide much of classic archival education in Latin countries and beyond (a Japanese colleague recently told me that he studied the same texts). They introduced me to the international archival literature from Europe, North and South America, and Australia… though I read it mostly in translation.

When I moved to Canada in 1987 I endeavoured to read everything I could put my hands on in order to understand North American archives, starting with Schellenberg of course. But it was Terry Eastwood who led me to the old texts, such as Jones, Berner, Holmes, Brooks, and it was my ongoing discussion with him about these authors and their ideas that spurred the development of my own ideas.

Terry was also responsible for my focus on diplomatics. He asked me to teach a course on contemporary diplomatics and, to win my skepticism, took me to visit W.K. Lamb, retired Dominion Archivist and Librarian, who spent an afternoon explaining the value of diplomatics in shaping the archival mind-set. As soon as I figured out that diplomatics was records management theory, I made the connection with what Kent Haworth and Reuben Ware had been telling me since I first arrived in Canada about functional classification, office of primary responsibility, and all those concepts that flowed into the British Columbia and Nova Scotia classification systems. Kent and Reuben had a delayed influence on my thinking, but a strong one nonetheless.

However, I have to recognize that the strongest influence on my career through the years has been that of my students. Every original thought I have had has come from an effort to answer their questions, to respond to their challenges, to address their concerns, to understand their points, and to explain myself. Some of my students have stated that I use the Socratic method of teaching, others that I haggle, quibble, or contend with them. What I do is learn from them while teaching them to develop and defend their own ideas. They have different backgrounds and perspectives and often different cultures. They ask questions that sometimes do not make sense to me and, on the one hand, I want to find out why they appear to come from left field and how they were formed in their mind, and on the other, I want to enable a clearer formulation of those thoughts. This exercise may either teach me new things or teach me how to better explain and illustrate by examples what I am trying to convey: either way, in the process, my students will have influenced me, my thinking, often my writings, certainly my professional choices.

What is your advice for new archivists?

 Stay open to all possibilities. When you are confused, go back to basics, look for the root of each concept or method, read the classics again. Remember that your knowledge is based on a scientific discipline that is international, but is applied in a specific and changing context: try always to reconcile the two. If you can’t, try again, read more, ask your colleagues.

Remember you are part of a tightly-nit scholarly profession. Participate actively in it by volunteering for your local and national associations, contributing to conferences, and writing for scholarly journals. Get involved in graduate archival education, as an adjunct, a guest speaker, a member of an advisory board, an internship supervisor, etc. and keep a strong tie with your alma mater. All these activities, in addition to keeping up with the literature, will also qualify you as a research collaborator: collaborating in research will keep you on the leading edge of your discipline and your profession.

As a practitioner, contribute to archival national and international listservs, and read carefully what your colleagues have to say and, sometimes, to ask: their questions are as important as other commentaries, or notifications. This of course means that you need to have a very fast delete finger and you will develop it as soon you will be able identify at a glance what is relevant to you and what is not.

When everyone agrees on an idea, or an issue becomes very popular, it is time for you to move on and try a different idea or identify another issue. Keep moving, be the one who asks new questions—no matter how outrageous, opens new doors, identifies new possibilities, creates new relationships with other professions and disciplines, and brings them to bear on the body of knowledge that we all share.

Finally, dream the impossible for archives and for your profession: it may not come true or it may not happen during your lifetime but, if or when it will, it will be because you imagined it!

“Three Questions” is an ongoing series of interviews with women who are leaders in the profession. The interviews, limited to three questions, will highlight women in the field who have made an impact, whether through their role in management, mentoring, research, or other leadership capacity. This series of interviews responds to WAR member’s interest in promoting women in leadership roles, as identified in WAR’s survey of its membership in August 2013. WAR welcomes suggestions for future interviewees – please contact us with your ideas.

Child Care Resources and Lactation Room at Annual Meeting

Upon request, SAA will put Annual Meeting registrants in contact with child care service providers. SAA will subsidize the cost for child care and will plan an appropriate amount in each year’s Annual Meeting budget:

A lactation room will be available for attendees behind the Registration desk. The room will have a refrigerator and SAA staff will ensure that anyone working the registration desk (on Level 1) will be able to direct attendees to the lactation room. Please see the below map or staff at the Registration for more information.Lactation room location