FROM THE CHAIR
This issue highlights events from DC Caucus Archives Week, and features other noteworthy happenings from the last three months. Thank you to all who organized, supported, participated, and attended these programs.
We set new highs for participation and attendance at the Archives Fair on 12 October. Thanks to Kristine Kaske, Susan McElrath, La Nina Clayton, Jennie Guilbaud, Heather Moore, Susan Malbin, Faye Haskins, Peggy Appleman, Mychalene Giampaoli, Danna Bell-Russel, and Gail R. Redmann for their hard work in coordinating the event. Thanks also to the Smithsonian Institution for providing us with an excellent room in the Ripley Center. Special thanks to Kristine for doing most of the infrastructure work, obtaining our special speaker, Dr. Frank Burke, and for agreeing to serve as Chair of the 2001 Archives Fair.
Susan McElrath and the team of Danna Bell-Russel, La Nina Clayton, Faye Haskins, Kristine Kaske, Susan Malbin, Heather Moore, and Gail Redmann coordinated an outstanding Teacher's Workshop on 14 October. Thanks also to the Library of Congress National Digital Library Learning Center (and Danna Bell-Russel) for the use of their office on a Saturday morning.
Thanks to Mary Mannix and the Maryland Caucus for providing an opportunity for DC Caucus members of MARAC to visit Maryland Historical Trust's Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory, located at Jefferson Patterson Park, and the Calvert Marine Museum, both in beautiful Calvert County, Maryland
The final DC Caucus event in 2000 was a symposium on Archives and Holocaust-Era Asset Research held on 6 December, at the National Gallery of Art Lecture Hall. I want to thank Maygene Daniels, Chief of the Gallery Archives,NGA; Nancy Yeide, Curator of Records, NGA; and Greg Bradsher, Director of the Holocaust-Era Assets Records Project, National Archives and Records Administration for their super presentations. Special thanks to Maygene and her wonderful staff who provided the organization, the facilities, and the cookies. And to Nancy and Greg, heartfelt thanks for years of friendship and collegiality.
Lastly, I want to note the sad passing of our colleague, Arthur Breton. Arthur passed away on 18 October. We have included a tribute to him written by Jim Byers in this newsletter.
The Best for this Holiday Season!
CELEBRATING ARCHIVES WEEK 2000
The 2000 DC Caucus Archives Fair held at the Smithsonian Institutionís Ripley Center on 12 October was a great success. We had more visitors than ever before in the fair's history! Many graduate students from the University of Maryland and the Catholic University College library and information science programs attended.
L to R Tom Soapes (National Air and Space Museum Archives), Dr. Frank Burke, and
Representatives from participating repositories shared their work experience and distributed information to visitors. Repositories who took part in this yearís fair include: the Library of Congress Print and Photographs Division, Manuscript Division and NUCMC; Smithsonian Institution Archives; National Air and Space Museum, Space Business Archives; National Anthropological Archives; National Museum of American History Archives Center; the History Factory; National Archives and Records Administration; Archives of American Gardens; Washington D.C. Historical Society; American Red Cross; National Gynecology and Obstetrics Association; National Museum of Health and Medicine Archives; Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University; Archives of American Art; Goodwill Industries International; Catholic University Archives; George Washington University Special Collections; and the American Institute of Physics.
Highlights of the fair included a special presentation from Dr. Frank Burke, former Archivist of the United States, who spoke about about the archival field and its future, and a "Tales from the Archives" discussion, in which archivists exchanged funny and informative experiences with one another.
Susan McElrath (National Anthropological Archives) and Kristine Kaske (National Air and
The DC Caucas 2000 Archives Fair Planning Committee, Susan McElrath, and I thank all those participating in and attending the Archives Fair. A special thanks to Dr. Burke for his presentation. The 2001 DC Caucus Archives Fair will be held on October 11th. Please contact me if you are interested in participating. Have a great holiday season!
-- Kristine L. Kaske (National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Panama Canal Panel
One of this yearís activities as part of Archives Week was the Panama Canal Panel took place on 13 October in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) downtown facility theater. The panel was also held in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The panel discussion was hosted by the National Archives Assembly, an archival professional organization made up of present and former NARA employees who support the development of NARA as the leading archival institution in the world. Lisa Haralampus, President of the Assembly introduced the three panel members: Thomas Cotter, the NARA Appraisal Archivist for the Panama Canal Commission; Patrice Brown, NARAís Panama Canal Records Specialist; and Kathleen Ludwig, NARA Conservator. NARAís Public Programs Office also took part in the Panel presentation by showing films from its holdings about the Panama Canal as part of their Friday Film Series.
L to R: Patricia Brown, Thomas Cotter, and Kathleen Ludvig
Cotter began the panel discussion by providing background information about the Panama Canal Commission, and its past records scheduling and disposition efforts. Brown followed up by discussing some issues involving the transfer of records and how they relate to NARA present holdings. Ludwig described types of damage associated with storing records in tropical climates. The session was well attended with approximately 40 people, including one gentleman whose father had worked on the Canal! We also received positive feedback from the attendees. The session was also videotaped.
-- Jennie Guilbaud (National Archives and Records Administration
On 14 October, four teachers whose students regularly participate in History Day in Washington, DC, including the DC Social Studies Coordinator, attended a prototype workshop designed, organized, and taught by members of the DC Caucus. The goal of this workshop was to introduce local teachers to archival research so that they can better assist their students with their History Day projects. The first part of the workshop focused on basic research practices including what to expect when you visit an archives. We demonstrated ways of locating information about archives and their collections through the Internet. Although many participants were History Day veterans, they found this overview extremely helpful especially the section on how to find collections. The workshop also provided an opportunity for us to engage in a dialog with the participants. For example, we discussed strategies for assisting students in refining their research topics to facilitate use of archival collections.
The second part of the workshop consisted of a series of activities giving teachers hands on experience in working with archival materials. The teachers learned how to read maps by using key legends, the different values of scientific research materials, how to evaluate material you find on the Internet, and what you can learn from photographs. Through a series of exercises and questions, the teachers evaluated a variety of archival sources and grappled with contextualizing their data.
The reviews were overwhelmingly positive so the planning committee has decided to hold the workshop again next year. We plan to slightly modify the format but to keep the content the same for 2001. If the workshop continues to be a success, we will consider adding new content or additional workshops in later years. If anyone has any questions about the workshop or would be interested in participating, please contact Susan McElrath at (202) 786-2513.
Many members of the DC Caucus were involved in this workshop at some stage. We couldn't have done it without everyone's support. I want to thank in particular Danna Bell-Russel, James Cassedy, La Nina Clayton, Faye Haskins, Kristine Kaske, Susan Malbin, Heather Moore, and Gail Redmann.
-- Susan McElrath (National Anthropological Archives)
TRIPS AND MEETINGSOn 28 October, DC and Maryland caucus members toured two Calvert County sites: the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC) at Jefferson Patterson Park, and the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons Island. Maryland Caucus Rep Mary Mannix organized the event.
Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Maritime Museum in Solomons Island, MD.
The Conservation Laboratory tour was hosted by MAC Director Dr. Julia King. A state of the art facility, MAC is a division of the Maryland Historical Trust. Its staff of conservators, archaeologists, and collection managers are responsible for some seven million artifacts, almost all of which were recovered from Maryland sites, and the majority of which are a result of State Highway Administration or US Navy projects.
Our in depth tour took ten of us through the various labs at MAC: conservation, finishing, material science, paleoenvironmental, as well as the storage and collections areas and the reference library. Early 17th century English and Dutch pottery shards, 18th century cannon, and parts of the Confederate ship "Alabama" were tour highlights.
L-R Mary Mannix (Maryland Caucus Representative), Richard Dobbs (Calvert Maritime Museum
Jefferson Patterson Park was donated to the state by the Patterson family. MAC opened in 1998. Its architects designed the facility to fit in with the colonial revival style of the Patterson estate.
The next stop for six of us was the Calvert Marine Museum hosted by Richard Dodds, Curator of Maritime History. Although choppy seas prevented us from taking a scheduled Solomons Harbor and Patuxent River cruise, we toured the Museum and the Archives as well as the Drum Point Lighthouse. This is one of three remaining screwpile lighthouses that served the Bay. Following its decommission, the lighthouse was relocated to Solomons and restored to its original appearance.
Devoted to the Maritime history, paleontology, and estuarine biology of the area, the Museum opened its current main building in 1989. Until then, the Museum had been in the restored schoolhouse that is now the home of the Administrative Office, the Archives, and the Library.
L-R Mary Mannix and Beth Alvarez. Photographed by Jim Stimpert.
Three quarters of the archival collection concerns maritime history; the remainder is mainly estuarine biology and paleontology collections. It has business records including the J. C. Lore Oyster House Papers and the archives of the last excursion boat enterprise in Alexandria, VA, as well as widely used photograph collections and oral histories.
Our Calvert County day was a great success. Thanks are due to Mary Mannix for organizing this event and inviting the DC Caucus to participate, and to our enthusiastic and knowledgeable hosts, Julia King and Richard Dodds.
-- Janice Goldblum (National Academy of Sciences)
Archives and Holocaust-Era Art Asset Research Panel Discussion
On 6 December , the DC Caucus in cooperation with the National Gallery of Art Archives, hosted a panel discussion on archival research on World War II looted works of art. Over 65 archivists, representing the DC archival community, attended. The discussion was held at the West Building Lecture Hall in the National Gallery of Art. Speakers included: Greg Bradsher, Director, Holocaust-Era Assets Records Project, at the National Archives and Records Administration, and Nancy Yeide, NGA Curator of Records. Bradsher discussed his institutionís efforts to provide researchers access to NARAís World War II records while Yeide spoke from the researcherís point of view on using archival records for provenance research.
Jim Cassedy, DC Caucus Representative, offered welcoming remarks to guests while Maygene Daniels, NGA Chief of Gallery Archives, provided introduction to the panel speakers and background information on NGAís role in assisting the American government with handling looted World War II works of art.
After the discussion and a brief question-answer period, refreshments were served. Daniels and her staff also held tours of NGA archives, and displayed and discussed their World War II collections.
-- Michele Lee (National Gallery of Art)
Small Repositories Special Interest Group
In December 1996, Susan McElrath, then chairperson of the DC Caucus, called for a meeting of DC "Lone Arrangers" to discuss a formation of a roundtable for archivists in small repositories. Over the next two years several meetings with five to eight participants were held at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, the Washingtoniana Division of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, and the American College of Ob/Gyns. Topics that were discussed included records management, preservation, outreach activities, interns and volunteers, photo archives and exhibits. After a year hiatus, the group earnestly convened in 2000 with a series of meetings held at the Historical Society of Washingon, the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Washingtoniana Division of Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. The group decided to continue to meet quarterly in order to provide a forum for archivists who work in small, specialized archives and for those who are responsible archival collections but have other job duties.
The next meeting of the Small Repositories Special Interest Group is on Tuesday, January 23rd at 3:00 pm at the American College of Ob/Gyns headquarters, 409 12th St., SW and open to all. Please contact Susan Rishworth, History Librarian/Archivist at ACOG at 202-863-2578 if you would like to attend.
--Susan Rishworth (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
Got a Real Cool Idea for a Session/Visit?
Arthur Breton (June 12, 1932 - October 18, 2000)
Arthur Breton was born in Brooklyn, New York. Shortly after high school, he entered the U.S. Navy (1950 - 1954) serving as a radio operator on the USS Marshall, a destroyer escort, off the coast of Korea during the Korean War. Following his naval service, Arthur attended University College, St. Johns University, Brooklyn on the G.I. Bill, receiving his B.A. degree in 1958.
Arthur at his desk in his home in Baltimore. Photograph is courtesy of Elsalyn Palmisano.
Arthur began his archival career in 1959, at the New York Historical Society. He was appointed Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, and worked there from 1959 - 1970. At the same time, Arthur entered the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University, taking courses from 1958 to 1961 with a concentration in Russian Area Studies. While at the New York Historical Society, Arthur was instrumental in publishing the two-volume Guide to Manuscripts at the New York Historical Society.
In 1970 Arthur left the New York Historical Society and joined the staff of the Archives of American Art, just as the Archives joined the Smithsonian Institution as a research bureau. Arthur served from 1970 until his retirement in August, 1997 as Curator of Manuscripts, and then Senior Archivist. He was professionally active in both the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). His SAA work was instrumental in establishing the Museum Archives Section of SAA. Arthur firmly believed that museum archives were enormously important for both museum administration and the American public. He worked to bring about the Belmont Conference on Museum Archives (1979) to establish an initial set of guidelines for museum archives. Arthur was also a long time leader and instructor in the Smithsonian's seminar for museum archivists.
Arthur served as the Chair of MARAC (1981-1983). He was also a charter member of MARAC and its first acting Treasurer. Arthur served on MARAC Program Committees (1985, 1986), and award committees of MARAC. Arthur was an active proponent of thoughtful and effective finding aids, and the force behind MARAC's influential finding aids award program. He served as Chair of the Finding Aid Awards Committee (1983), and the Custer Award Committee (1978-1979).
Arthur had a long term interest in archival education. During the last several years preceding his retirement, he worked regularly with two to three university interns each school session. He provided an excellent introduction to the world of archives, scheduling his intern class for sessions and presentations around the Smithsonian and with other Washington museums. He involved the interns in writing and research projects which often resulted in published guides or finding aids. Most of Arthur's students went on to positions with other cultural institutions, some of them within the Smithsonian.
Arthur had an engaging personality and a wry sense of humor. He was genuinely interested in people, and was happy to discuss an issue or problem. At most MARAC meetings, Arthur could be found, after the MARAC sessions, at the "Hospitality Suite", actively involved in resolving whatever archival or other problems were being discussed. He once told me that he got more out of an archival conference from talking with the people there than from attending the scheduled meetings and seminars. He always had a positive contribution to make. Arthur will be missed.
-- Jim Byers (Archives of American Art)
The newsletter continues to be sent out via e-mail, except to those for whom we do not have e-mail addresses, and those who do not wish to receive e-mail from the DC Caucus. If you wish to make any changes, please contact Jim Cassedy.
MARAC 501(c)(3) Tax Status
During its application process, MARAC must meet state requirements in order to receive tax-free status. MARAC (and our agent, Becky Collier) was closely questioned by the District of Columbia about MARAC activities within the district. Our educational activities, including the "Archives Fair," the Teachers Workshop, and other activities, such as the First Hand Award, co-sponsored by the National Archives Assembly, go a long way towards proving our active involvement and civic contributions to the District of Columbia. Please give our own DC Caucus member, and MARAC Treasurer, Becky Collier, a big thank you for the time and effort she has put in filling out eight state applications for tax free status.