Archival Privilege: Case Studies in How Individual Collecting Affects Who Is Heard or Silenced in Archives

In this project, I critically examine the act of collecting in archives through the lens of intersectionality. This thesis examines two archival collections to address the following question: In collections compiled by private individuals and then transferred to historical or academic institutions, how do factors such as the collector’s privilege and interests and the historical context in which they collected affect which historical voices are heard or silenced? To achieve this, I utilize case studies from two local archival collections: the Alice Marshall Women’s History Collection, part of Archives and Special Collections in the Penn State Harrisburg Library; and the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania History Project, which is a collaborative project between the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania and Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections. In each example, I examine the contents of the collections and examples of research and outreach created from their primary sources; introduce the collectors themselves and the historical context in which they collected; and gain insight from the professionals and volunteers who work closely with these collections to get a sense of the history and implications of the collections and the perspectives they represent. By critically examining collecting, interpretation, and outreach practices, this project engages with conversations regarding the production of history using archival collections, including the question of “objectivity” in historical research and interpretation. I also explore possible solutions, such as digital collections and ethical action by archivists. I approach my research through an intersectional lens to highlight how history cannot be “objective” when perspectives are left out of historical and cultural memory in archives.

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Work Title Archival Privilege: Case Studies in How Individual Collecting Affects Who Is Heard or Silenced in Archives
Access
Open Access
Creators
  1. Tesa Lark Burns
Keyword
  1. LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania History Project
  2. LGBTQ+ archives
  3. Private collectors
  4. Archives
  5. LGBTQ+ history
  6. Women's history
  7. Community archives
  8. Penn State Harrisburg
  9. Memory
  10. Intersectionality
  11. Alice K. Marshall
  12. Social Justice
  13. Archival ethics
  14. American Studies
  15. Feminism
  16. Archival collections
  17. Archival outreach
  18. Digital collections
  19. Master's thesis
  20. Women's history archives
License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Work Type Project
DOI doi:10.26207/49t8-3d32
Deposited December 19, 2019

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