“Interspecies Smalltalk” Smalltalk: David Behrman on New Sounds

David Behrman, New Sounds, March, 7, 1985

Minimalist composer David Behrman is in town this week, playing  ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn on July 20 and 21 with the Sonic Arts Union. On March 7, 1985, Behrman visited New Sounds to discuss his work with host John Schaefer. At the time, the composer was working on a piece for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, “Interspecies Smalltalk,” with violinist Takehisa Kosugi, himself an important composer and the leader of the Japanese experimental ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers.

For Behrman, writing music is less about putting notes onto paper than it is about designing systems that allow sounds — timbres, tones, and sonorities — to emerge from improvised and chance interactions between acoustic and electronic instruments. As the composer says of “Interspecies Smalltalk,” “That’s really the idea of the piece: to stress the acoustic character of an instrument in relationship to an electronic system.” The personality and attitude of the performer is a crucial element of the composition. For all the emphasis on the “system,” the music itself is warm, expressive and conversational, a chat across a digital language barrier.

Schaefer and Behrman also chat (with no apparent language barrier) about the composer’s role in the Sonic Arts Union (SAU), a collective of heavyweight minimalists who came together in the late 1960s as part of the scene surrounding the legendary ONCE festival. Comprised of the late Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, and Behrman himself, the SAU were known for their anarchic and occasionally abrasive performances, each composer presenting a piece, with the others providing for technical and musical support. Describing his music from that period, Behrman tells Schaefer that “it was more in the noise family of things. I was interested in interactive systems, but in those days, I remember using little flashlights that would make sounds and whirl around in space, and analog electronics that weren’t so involved with steady pitches … It was the discovery of those electronic sounds that hadn’t been used much by composers, but were available with the transistors in those days — it was kind of a fresh resource.”

The conversation also touches on Behrman’s time as a producer for the “Music of Our Time” series at Columbia Masterworks — where he worked on the legendary first recording of Terry Riley’s In C — as well as a “collaborative installation” he’d been working on with composer George Lewis. This project, which would later be called “All Thumbs,” was recently included on an archival release from Alga Marghen records titled Music With Memory. The piece resembled an interactive video game, with participants using a kalimba, or thumb piano, to interface with an electronic system. Like Behrman’s other work, “All Thumbs” is playful, but there’s also something radical and even transgressive about the way it erases distinctions between professional and amateur performers. Schaefer notes: “It seems almost as if the performer is the machine. You have a person standing up there playing an instrument, but once you set the process in motion, it just sort of creates the music itself.” To which Behrman replies: “Part of the idea is to make sort of game-like situations for the performers. They might be experts or they might novices.”

The two Brooklyn shows this week are being billed are as a reunion of the three surviving members of SAU, and as a tribute to the late, great Robert Ashley. Mumma, Lucier, and Behrman will all be performing, with support by like-minded musicians including Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi, Cleek Shrey, and others. Listeners will have an opportunity to experience the playful, transgressive, and possibly flashlight-induced music of David Behrman and the Sonic Arts Union.


Intersession Intermission at Special Collections

Special Collections & Archives Research Center Reading Room, the Claude Pepper Library, and the Norwood Reading Room will be available by appointment only during the dates of August 6-17. Our faculty and staff will use this “downtime” during FSU’s intersession to complete projects and prepare for the upcoming semester (as well as spruce up our spaces!).

If you need to access our collections during this time, please contact us at lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu or (850) 644-3271 to schedule an appointment. We will resume our normal hours on Monday, August 20, 2018.

“The Way to Peace”

We were honored to partner with our friends of the State Records Management and Archives Department of Vietnam in the creation of the exhibit “Paris Peace Accords: The Way to Peace” which opened today in Hanoi. The exhibit uses textual records, film, photographs, and artifacts to tell the story leading to the negotiations which ended a war that divided the peoples of both countries.

Archivist David Ferriero at the opening of the “Paris Peace Accords: The Way to Peace” exhibit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Alice Kamps

We contributed facsimiles from the records of the State and Defense Departments and the Presidential Libraries of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford, including film footage.  A poignant letter to President Nixon by a child in 1970 urged him to “stop the war in Vietnam my cousin is in.  And I want the United States to settle down.”

As a veteran of the war myself, this was also a personal pilgrimage. It is my first time back in the country since early 1971 when I left Da Nang as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman. In my year there I came to appreciate the beauty of the country and the kindness of the people.  And the common desire to end the fighting. So, for me, it was an emotional and joyful return.

After almost 50 years I am tremendously proud of our new friends in Vietnam as we explore collaborative opportunities beyond this exhibit.  We have much to learn from each other as we share access to our records; we are in the same business–collecting and protecting the records of our countries and, most importantly, encouraging the use of those records to learn from our past.

ISOO Report Recommends Government-wide Technology Strategy to Address Inefficiencies in Information Security

Today, the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) released its 2017 Annual Report to the President on security classification and implementation of the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program.  ISOO’s report highlights the high cost and inefficiency of using outmoded systems to protect America’s classified information, and recommends that the President implement a Government-wide technology strategy for the management of classified information to combat inaccurate classification and promote more timely declassification.

Based on data collected from executive agencies, the call for a common technology solution and risk management strategy to coordinate necessary improvements in the classification system complements additional findings, recommendations and judgments in the ISOO report.

ISOO also prescribes that the Office of Management and Budget consider reforming the budget process to include security classification as a line-item, as well as to prioritize dedicated funds for research and development activities and to transform acquisition practices.

ISOO’s report notes that CUI program implementation remains challenging, with too many agencies providing only limited support.  ISOO believes that robust agency implementation of compliant CUI policies designed to better protect and facilitate the sharing of sensitive information would further advance the President’s management initiatives.  However, the sluggish rate of agency progress toward this goal requires immediate White House intervention.

See ISOO’s Annual Report to the President for FY 2017, for the complete set of findings, recommendations, and judgments, based on quantitative data gathered from executive branch agencies, as required under Executive Order 13526.

Celebrate July 4 with the National Archives!

This year, the National Archives celebrates the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with special events in Washington, DC, and at Presidential Libraries nationwide.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence, declaring the United States independent of Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved. On August 2, 1776, delegates began to sign the engrossed Declaration of Independence penned by Timothy Matlack. For a detailed history of the founding document, be sure to read “The Declaration of Independence: A History” on Archives.gov.

As the trustees of our nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—the National Archives and Records Administration is a natural place to celebrate this national holiday.

For those of you in Washington, DC this July 4, stop by Constitution Avenue at 10 a.m. for a Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony, then head inside for family activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also join us for celebrations at our Presidential Libraries around the nation, or join the Washington festivities through Facebook Live, which will broadcast the events live. Watch last year’s celebration for a taste of the festivities.

Learn more and find a celebration near you on our July 4 Celebration events page. Wherever you are on July 4th, share your celebrations on social media using the hashtag #ArchivesJuly4.

 Independence Day Records at NARA

We can often take our founding documents for granted. I encourage all of us to take time during our Independence Day celebrations to read these documents and to pause and remember the difficult choices our nation’s Founders made and the meaning of these documents today.

I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day!

Bob, Where Do You Keep Your Grammys®?

You could see them coming from miles away. By car, by plane, by automobile—hundreds of music producers, engineers, librarians, and archivists were descending on a small town in the Virginia hills. They met at the airport, hugged at the train depot and waved at each other on the street. For three days at the end of June, the town of Culpeper, Virginia (pop.17,000) surely had the highest concentration of Grammy®-award winners in the world.

The location was not arbitrary: many of the original recordings responsible for those awards are lovingly stored nearby, at the Library of Congress’ National Audiovisual Conservation Center (NAVCC), a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s most prized recordings are kept, distributed, and promoted. That building was where the Audio Engineering Society was holding its second-ever International Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration—a subject that deeply concerns many passionate souls, from content creators to those in charge of preserving the content for future generations1. They descended on the town, coming from near and far, to hear talks and exchange ideas on everything from tape chemistry to metadata displays on smartphones.

This is where those of us lucky enough to attend witnessed keynote speaker Bob Ludwig (27 Grammy Nominations) speak about the audio formats he has encountered in his storied career; the Library of Congress’ Andrew Davis show amazing microscopic pictures of magnetic tape; Jamie Howarth demonstrate his astonishing Plangent Processes on music which you thought already sounded pretty darn good; European experts present advances in retrieving sound from analog records with light, not styli; engineers from Indiana and elsewhere expound on making wax cylinders sound (much) better than ever; and iZotope’s Alexey Lukin give a taste of what may be coming for sound restoration (hint: it involves big data). Among many others, stirring panels on multitrack archiving (where George Massenburg and Toby Seay dissected the supreme craft of recording engineers such as Joe Tarsia and musicians such as Stevie Wonder, and Steve Rosenthal highlighted some of his excellent reissues) and sobering accounts of the challenges posed by a lack of standards across several aspects of the music industry contributed to a rich experience for all those who attended, who could also take tours of this facility which excels not only in its physical plant but, more importantly, in its committed and passionate staff.

While at the Conference, it transpired that Nadja Wallaszkowits, long term audio preservation champion, will become the Audio Engineering Society’s next president. We applaud that step, and are confident that the audio legacy of our culture will continue to gain exposure through efforts such as this conference.

1 The first Audio Engineering Society Conference on Audio Archiving, Restoration & New Methods of Recording was held in Budapest in 2001.

PPL Renovation: It’s Here!

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter have already heard, but for blog-reading purists: PPL is beginning a major building renovation this week! We’re excited for all the changes this will bring, and the ways in which it will improve how we serve the public.

The 12-18 month renovation will affect our general circulation, as well as access to Special Collections. Notably: we are no longer holding weekly open hours, but Special Collections is still open to researchers by appointment. This Building Transformation page on the PPL website will have up-to-date information throughout the renovation. (It also has cool architect’s renderings of the new space.)

The last few weeks in the life of a Wikipedian-In-Residence

For the last three months, I have been a Wikipedian-In-Residence at the University of Stirling Archives. The last few weeks of the project have flown in, and I have been continuing to edit and create new articles for the collections in the archive.

In the last few weeks, my focus has been on Sam Black, Peter Mackay and the William Simpson Asylum which each now have an article on Wikipedia dedicated to them. The Peter Heatly and Norman McLaren articles had time dedicated to adding more information to them as well.

I have been uploading images from the Peter Mackay Collection on to Wikimedia Commons, it has been fascinating looking through the photos of Peter’s life in Africa, and I hope other people will enjoy looking at them as well. I also uploaded images from the University of Stirling Collection, an image of Forsyth Hardy and some images for Howietoun Fishery.

I worked on a #DYK (Did You Know) on Twitter to show the wonderful programs from the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) that the archive holds, but also give some interesting facts about the EIFF.

It has been a wonderful experience working with the archive, I have enjoyed learning how to add articles to Wikipedia and hope to continue to add or edit pages in the future.

Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling.

Strathcona redevelopment files easier to find in the Archives

The Archives’ on-going inventory project has revealed some gems, including records that would be well served with enriched metadata in our AtoM database. This blog post focuses on one such body of records: appropriation and demolition files from the City’s Strathcona redevelopment projects of the 1960s. These records form part of the Property Division series COV-S305 Redevelopment files subsequent to the 1957 Vancouver Redevelopment Study.

City of Vancouver redevelopment : project 2, part of area “A”. Reference code: COV-S305: LEG1353.03

The above key plan shows the various redevelopment sub-areas in Project 2 and Project 1, which were spread across Strathcona. The bounded and numbered areas on the map above denote the various sub-areas for Project 2; the shaded areas are the sub-areas for Project 1. The detail below shows the pre-demolition land configuration of Project 2, sub-area 6, and Project 1 sub-area 3 as of August 1963. These properties were purchased or appropriated, and the buildings demolished, in order to construct the Maclean Park housing project.

Detail from City of Vancouver redevelopment : project 2, part of area “A”

The appropriation files document, by individual property, the acquisition and demolition of approximately 300 residences, commercial and industrial buildings on over 200 properties across Strathcona for Project 1, sub-area 1; and Project 2 sub-areas 5, 6 and 7. Some files document more than one property, if they were adjacent and had the same owner.

Exterior photos, site plan, and site usage notes from file 308 East Georgia Street/734 Gore Avenue. Photo: Sharon Walz

The files include pre-demolition photographs of the exteriors (and sometimes the interiors) of the properties and information about site usage for non-residential buildings. For residential properties occupied at the time of acquisition, the file also contains information about the residents and owner (if different).

Some of the appraisal and acquisition documentation from file 308 East Georgia Street/734 Gore Avenue. Photo: Sharon Walz

Many of the properties had multiple structures on site, and the files relating to them often contain a sketched site plan of the buildings.

Photographs and a site plan from file 918-930 Keefer Street, part of project sub-area 1; photo: Sharon Walz

Previously, these files had been described collectively, by sub-area. We felt that enriching the metadata about these records would make them more accessible to researchers, who most frequently search for property information by address or legal land description. So we re-described the files by address, as the records were originally created by the Properties Division.

Please note that some of the files are restricted in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as they contain non-published personal information about the residents of the properties. Researchers wishing to review these files must c0mplete the Archives’ Access to Restricted Records form.  Files that contain personal information otherwise available (such as names and occupations of residents already available in published City directories) have not been restricted.

We hope that easier access helps you make use of these records, which uniquely document the past of one of Vancouver’s most interesting and altered neighbourhoods.

Wikipedia project: month 2

Another four weeks in the life of a Wikipedian-in-residence…

For three months there will be a new addition to the University of Stirling Archives, a Wikipedian-In-Residence. The second month went just as quickly as the first; I have been editing and creating new articles for the collections in the archive.

In the second month, my focus has been driven by how many people view certain collections on the archive website. The Royal Scottish National Hospital, Forsyth Hardy and Howietoun Fishery now have an article on Wikipedia dedicated to them. Lindsay Anderson, Innerpeffray Library and the Musicians Union have all had time dedicated to adding more information to their Wiki articles.

I attended a Wiki training course on the 24th of May, and while there I edited the pages of two Scottish suffragettes Arabella Scott and Ethel Moorhead.

It is scary how quickly the weeks have flown in; however, in my last few weeks, I will be focusing on Sam Black, Peter Mackay and the William Simpson Asylum.

Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling, her residency will run until the end of June 2018.

National Archives updates progress on ICE records disposition

The proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records schedule for records related to detainees held in ICE detention facilities (DAA-0567-2015-0013) has received significant attention in the media and by concerned individuals. Because of the ongoing interest in this schedule, NARA is providing this update on the status of the review.  The draft schedule includes files documenting cases of sexual abuse and assault of detainees, as well as detainee death investigation files. This schedule was proposed to NARA in October 2015 and posted to the Federal Register on July 14, 2017. The proposed schedule was a new request for disposition authority for unscheduled records, not a request to revise an existing records schedule.

All federal agencies propose series of records to NARA for review by NARA staff and approval by the Archivist of the United States. NARA considers each submission, or records schedule, carefully, typically meeting with agency subject matter experts, before recommending which records created are permanent and which are temporary. This determination is made by NARA through the records schedule review process. During this review, NARA determines whether records warrant preservation in the National Archives (permanent retention) and whether records lack permanent historical or other research value (temporary retention) in accordance with NARA’s appraisal policy.

NARA also reviews the retention periods proposed for temporary records to ensure the period protects the legal rights of the Government and private parties. Identified permanent records will be transferred to NARA and temporary records may be legally destroyed by agencies after a specified period of time. The opportunity for public input is mandated by law through the Federal register and is integral to the scheduling and appraisal process.

As part of the regular process of reviewing the submission from ICE, NARA received an unprecedented number of comments. Comments under review by NARA include three congressional letters with a total of 36 signatures (29 house members, 7 senators); a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with 23,758 comments, a petition from UltraViolet with 1,475 signatures; written comments from 187 individuals and six organizations; and phone calls from seven individuals. Comments were received via request.schedule@nara.gov and postal mail, and gathered from other sources such as the main National Archives email address inquire@nara.gov, web inquiry forms, the National Archives Office of Inspector General, and from NARA employees who received comments directly from concerned citizens.

NARA staff have been reviewing these comments and working with ICE to address them and revise the schedule accordingly. In addition, the Archivist of the United States has directed NARA subject matter experts to conduct a comprehensive review of all ICE schedules that relate to deaths and assaults of detainees in ICE facilities.

After the public comments have been assessed and the comprehensive review is complete, NARA will require ICE to make all changes to the proposed schedule. Our plan is to publish a public notice via the Federal Register responding to all comments. We will make all reasonable efforts to notify interested individuals, such as media outlets that previously contacted us, the ACLU, and commenters who directly provided substantive comments.

Tattoo Ideas from the Updike Collection

Our Updike Collection on the History of Printing contains a tremendous number of type specimen books, many of which have sections of cuts–small, reusable illustrations that printers could purchase to illustrate books, newspapers, broadsides, and the like. (We often describe them as “historic clip art”.)

More often than not, first-time viewers of these cuts will point to one and exclaim, “Wow, that would make a great tattoo!” Which brings us to two points:

  1. If you own a tattoo shop and want to work out a deal, get in touch;
  2. We have a LOT of fun ideas for tattoos.

We’d like to present a few recent inspirations, all from a recently cataloged specimen book from the G. Schildknecht type foundry in Brussels.

Religious tattoos are always popular, but does anyone really need to see another bicep graced by a sacred heart? Why not get a unique religious tattoo, like this image of St. Nicholas with three babies in a wooden tub?


(If you don’t know the story of St. Nicholas miraculously resurrecting three babies who were chopped up and salted by an evil butcher, well, now you do.)

If that’s too tame for you, you could also get this image of an apparition of Mary in a… tree? Is that a mushroom cloud? Why don’t Mary or baby Jesus have limbs? If you know more about what this image is depicting, please let us know.


If a religious tattoo isn’t for you, may we suggest an animal? Such as…

…totally stoked cat, disheveled porcupine, maned sloth with a weird face, or side-eye sheep?

For the truly fun-loving tattoo-getter, there’s always Dionysus, which is my preliminary identification of the fun-loving and wavy-eyedbrowed gent shown here:


And finally, for those looking for a unique twist on the traditional “Mom” tattoo, how about this stylized face situation, with “Mom” on the banner?


Eileen Press Kairys

Contralto Eileen Press was born in New York City. She began her musical training at the age of three learning to play the violin eventually moving to the cello and piano. Majoring in music she graduated from NYU’s Washington Square College and sang leading roles with the Greenwich Village Light Opera Company and as a soloist in New York City churches. At the time of her July 1947 recital appearance on WNYC, she was a soloist at Manhattan’s Temple Emanu-El. Press had also sung in solo ensemble with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra under conductor Artur Rodzinski.

Eileen Press married Dr. David Kairys in 1960. She later provided services to medical students at Mt. Sinai Medical Center’s Recreation office in the 1980s. Eileen never lost her love for playing the piano. To her last days, she was a devoted and beloved mother to her son, Stephen.

The note below was written just after the April 28, 1947 concert at the top of this page. 

Thank you note from Eileen Press to WNYC Music Director Herman Neuman.
(Courtesy of Stephen Kairys/WNYC Archive Collections)

Eileen Press also performed “Songs From the Oratorios” over WNYC on July 13, 1947 below. In both of her WNYC performances she was accompanied by her sister, Alice M. Press, on piano.

Song listing for the July 13, 1947 WNYC broadcast.
(Courtesy of Stephen Kairys)


Eileen Press Tchaikovsky and Saint Saens

Eileen Press sings Carmen

Eileen Press sings Aida

All audio courtesy of Stephen Kairys.

White House Transformation Plan

Last week President Trump released his plan to reform and reorganize the Federal government. I am pleased to announce that the President’s plan includes NARA’s reform proposal, “Transition to Electronic Government.” The Summary of Proposal states:

“This proposal would transition Federal agencies’ business processes and recordkeeping to a fully electronic environment, and end the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) acceptance of paper records by December 31, 2022. This would improve agencies’ efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness to citizens by converting paper-based processes to electronic workflows, expanding online services, and enhancing management of Government records, data, and information.”

The Government Reform Plan endorses NARA’s Strategic Plan goal to stop accepting paper records by December 31, 2022, and adds new expectations for Executive Branch agencies to support the transition to fully-electronic records management.

I am proud that NARA has an opportunity to contribute to the President’s plan, and I am encouraged that the Administration recognizes the importance of records management. Records management is an essential function of government, and the President’s plan allows NARA to leverage our records management policies, standards, and leadership to help streamline the Federal government.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the NARA staff for their contributions that have led up to today’s announcement. NARA’s reform proposal is the direct result of suggestions and contributions from NARA staff.

Our reform plan proposal was based on ideas contributed by staff in a staff survey, “Ideas to Improve NARA.” We also used the FY 2018—2022 Strategic Planning process to develop and refine these ideas, and collected staff feedback in a series of town halls, surveys, and participation in our internal collaboration network. The result is a reform plan that complements our Strategic Plan, puts records management at the forefront of other agencies’ reform agendas, and will help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness while making the Federal government more responsive to the American people.

Again, I want to thank our staff for their participation and contributions to this important moment for NARA. I encourage everyone to review the full report so that you can see the entire scope of the proposed changes and review NARA’s proposal.


Bad Children of History #35: Squalid Swedes

Today’s bad children of history aren’t naughty, per se; they’re just very, very, very unkempt. They wear floppy bucket hats, they don’t brush their hair, and they even [whispering] ride around on pigs.


These children eat with their dirty hands, spilling food onto their smocks, and their table manners leave more than a little to be desired.


(Isn’t that framed pig portrait on the wall a nice touch?)

Luckily for these grubby children, Pelle Snygg soon arrives in his sparkling white clown suit to shame them with threats of cleanliness and a promotional flag. Yikes!


After laying eyes on these mucky moppets, Pelle Snygg realizes that the task is immense, and he needs to recruit help. He calls up his close friends, Intimidating Sponge Lady, Scary Anthropomorphized Pitcher Guy, Boar Who Makes Brushes From His Own Bristles, and someone who I think might be a bar of soap in a friar’s robe.

The yucky youth are NOT delighted to see their new extreme makeover team, although Pelle Snygg seems nothing short of jubilant (and immaculate).


Pelle Snygg begins the beautification process with a healthy dose of shampoo and smart, new summer hairdos for all.

For the transformation to be complete, Pelle Snygg implements lifestyle changes for the yucky children, with a vigorous lake swim and some laundry-washing lessons:


In a surprising turn of events, these children now seem to be fully under the sway of Intimidating Sponge Lady and her cohort. “I feel like a new person!,” they chime. “I thought it was impossible to love the skin I’m in. I can’t believe the difference! Thanks, Pelle Snygg!”


Improving the Administration of FOIA

Just last month the second term of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee wrapped up its two years of work by unanimously approving its Final Report and Recommendations. The Committee brings together FOIA requesters and agency FOIA professionals to develop consensus solutions to some of the greatest challenges in the administration of FOIA.

During this term, the Committee wrestled with several critical issues and issued recommendations aimed at promoting the proactive disclosure of records, improving agencies’ ability to identify responsive digital records, and reinforcing that FOIA is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of full-time FOIA professionals. The report also includes a number of best practices that will be published by the Office of Government and Information Services (OGIS) as part of the office’s statutory responsibility to identify procedures and methods to improve FOIA compliance.

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcomes attendees to the final meeting of the 2016-2018 term of the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, welcomes attendees to the final meeting of the 2016-2018 term of the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018. National Archives photo by Jeff Reed

As the nation’s record keeper, we are tasked with identifying, protecting, preserving and making publicly available the historically valuable records of all three branches of government. We help agencies meet their Federal records management responsibilities through regulations, policies, training and oversight.  Strong records management is the backbone of an efficient, compliant FOIA program and smoother FOIA process. Our role in records management, combined with our role as the Federal FOIA Ombudsman, means that NARA has a critical role to play in pushing forward many of these recommendations. I also look forward to working with counterparts at other key agencies and entities to evaluate and find effective ways to move forward on the Committee’s report.

I look forward to working with OGIS to implement these recommendations. I am also looking forward to announcing the appointment of members to the Committee’s 2018-2020 Term later this summer, and seeing the challenges that the Committee tackles in its next term.

What They Fought: Resistance to Integration and the Path to the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott

In the spring of 1956, after students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson from Florida A&M University, were arrested and jailed for refusing to leave the “whites only” section of a Tallahassee bus, the African-American community of the city rallied together to boycott the city bus service and take a stand for their civil rights and the belief that the color of their skin should not leave them subject to discrimination and fear. Those who participated in the boycott, including Rev. C.K. Steele, Daniel Speed, Jakes and Patterson and many others from the then 10,600 African-American residents of Tallahassee, were met with resistance from bigoted members of the Tallahassee community that felt racial segregation should remain the law of the land. What factors contributed to a mindset that would allow for one group to so poorly treat another?

A new exhibit now open at the Claude Pepper Library seeks to illustrate the kind of resistance that the Bus Boycott participants faced in their endeavors to secure fair and impartial treatment in a city that they too, called home. Guests are invited to visit the Claude Pepper Library and explore the exhibit on the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956 which is open to the public now, through the early fall of 2018. Using primary source documents, ephemera and photographs that provide a deeper context for the events that began to take place in May of 1956, Special Collections & Archives provides a look into the social and political climate in the State of Florida leading during the time of the Bus Boycott. Guests are also able to listen to audio recordings of boycott participants and witnesses, including the Reverend C.K. Steele, Daniel Speed and Governor LeRoy Collins. The Claude Pepper Library and Museum are open Monday through Friday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, call (850) 644-9217 or email Political Papers Archivist Robert Rubero (rrubero@fsu.edu) with any questions.

Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden

The City of Vancouver Archives is the repository for the early records of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society and on July 5, at 6pm, the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives is hosting an evening entitled “Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Friends of the Vancouver City Archives invitation for the July 5th event

The event will support the Archives’ digitization work and will offer Chinese tea and pastries, a presentation given by Professor Alison Bailey regarding the traditional concepts and artistic and poetic representations of the Chinese garden, and a tour of the Garden led by docents that will highlight the Garden’s architectural and horticultural elements.

The records held by the Archives were donated by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society in 1991, 1992, and 2011. They span from 1981-2009, with the majority from 1981-1991, and consist of approximately 1700 photographs, 22 videocassettes, 139 architectural drawings, 1 technical drawing and 2 maps.

Garden’s 5th anniversary edition newsletter showing images of the construction of the Garden by the Chinese artisans. Reference code: AM1068-S16-F12

In 1981, the Society, whose mandate was set to act as a cross-cultural bridge for greater understanding of the Chinese culture by establishing and operating a classical Chinese garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown, was incorporated under British Columbia’s Society Act. The construction of the Garden began in 1984. Textual records of the Building Committee (series 3), and the Documentation Committee (series 4), document the building process of the Garden in words, while photographs (series 4), moving images (series 16) and the architectural drawings (series 19) document that process visually.

Back cover of promotional booklet from 1984 with a detail drawing of the Garden. Reference code: AM1068-S8–

The Garden was the first classical Chinese garden to be constructed outside of China. The level of cooperation between the Canadian and Chinese governments to build the Garden was relatively rare in the 1980s, adding to the special nature of the establishment of this Garden. The plans were drawn up by the Suzhou Classical Garden Administration, who worked closely with the firm Joe Wai Architect/Don Vaughan Associates Landscape Architects. The Suzhou Classical Garden Administration worked to prepare the construction materials that were imported from China, and also sent Chinese artisans to build the garden.

The artisans used ancient methods and tools, with the exception of the plastic hard hats, which they were required to wear by the Workers’ Compensation Board, as highlighted in the 1987 production of People Will Talk.

Joe Wai and Don Vaughan were responsible for coordinating the work and overseeing the design and construction of the surrounding park. Records in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society fonds also include news clipping footage from the official opening of the Garden in April 1986, just prior to the start of Expo 86.

Other series that make up the fonds consist of minutes, reports, and correspondence relating to the various committees that oversee the running of the garden. Some of these committees include the Administration Committee (series 1), Board of Trustees (series 2), Education Committee (series 5), and Finance Committee (series 7).

The evening with Professor Alison Bailey at the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on July 5th, promises to be informative and interesting. We hope to see you there.  Tickets are on sale now.

Making Access Happen through the Digital Public Library of America

Providing public access to Federal Government records is central to the mission of the National Archives. Open access to government records strengthens democracy by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship, hold their government accountable, and understand their history so they can participate more effectively in their government.

Collaboration with stakeholders, the public, and private organizations to make historical records available has long been a priority for the National Archives. It is clear that collaboration is the path to the future, and nowhere is this more apparent than through the efforts of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to connect people to our nation’s shared history.

DPLA provides a single online access point for anyone, anywhere to search and access digital collections containing America’s cultural, historical and scientific heritage. This collaborative effort has united leaders and educators from various government agencies, libraries, archives and museums of all sizes working together to ensure that all people have access to information they need.

Screenshot of DPLA Browse by Topic page

We’ve been involved with DPLA from its earliest stages. In October 2010, I was in the meeting room at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study when DPLA was born. We hosted the first Plenary Session back in 2011, where more than 300 government leaders, librarians, technologists, makers, students, and many others gathered at the National Archives to share their visions for DPLA and open access.

DPLA has now grown to include more than 21 million records from over 3,000 cultural heritage institutions across the United States. The National Archives is the largest participating Content Hub: nearly 3.8 million NARA records are currently available on DPLA, making up 17.5% percent of the content.

The volume of records that we’ve been able to share over the years has allowed DPLA to test the scalability of their ingestion infrastructure. Testing with such a large data set provides the opportunity to see how large numbers of records affect search and retrieval algorithms. This is an important step, as the goal of DPLA is to provide users with the most accurate search results without overwhelming records from other institutions in their index. We are continuing to work together to share more of our data with DPLA.

The National Archives’ participation in DPLA over the years has been an opportunity to share our content more broadly, open new doors for research and discovery, and engage and connect with users from across the United States and around the world. I am especially proud of the work done collaboratively by the National Archives and participating institutions to expand access to information through DPLA. The ability to seamlessly search across the collections of major cultural, historical, and research institutions alongside the holdings of local museums and libraries improves democracy through education, and furthers the principles of open government.

Becci Davis Artist’s Talk at PPL 6/13

We’re very sad to say that our 2018 Creative Fellow’s time with us is coming to a close at the end of June. We’ve had a delightful time working with her, and it’s been energizing and exciting to see the new work that she’s created based on our collections.

First, we’d like to say that Becci Davis gave an astounding and well-received performance on the library’s Washington Street steps this past Saturday as part of PVDFest, complete with large-scale banners bearing images of items from our Special Collections. Below are a couple of photographs of her performance:

If you missed Saturday’s performance, or if you loved it so much that it left you wanting more, you’ll be happy to hear that tomorrow (Wednesday, June 13, 2018), you’ll have TWO opportunities to see Becci!

First, she’ll be bringing her Beacon Beauty Shop (as seen at our HairBrained opening) to Burnside Park in downtown Providence from 11:00 – 2:00. A description from the artist:

Beacon Beauty Shop is an interactive art performance. Becci Davis had her first appointment in a beauty shop when she was ten years old. Since then, she has been a patron in numerous beauty salons and found that elements of Black salon culture are widespread. That alone is something beautiful. These institutions are beacons of Black culture and the setting to countless intimate interactions between stylist and client. Join her as she examines beauty shop culture through performance. Share good, bad, and awkward moments in an intimate, 5 minute, one-on-one exchange.


Then, later that same day, Becci is giving an artist’s talk at the library, where she’ll reflect on her research and creative process, show documentation of Saturday’s performance of Private Proclamations, and answer questions. (Thank you to Matthew Lawrence of Law and Order Party for a lovely shout-out regarding this talk!)

We hope to see you there!

A Visual Tour of Florida State University History: The Historic Photograph Collection

Heritage & University Archives is excited to present a newly reprocessed collection: The Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection. An initial inventory, which took a project archivist roughly four months to compile, indicated that the collection included nearly half a million images in both print and negative format. Former graduate student Dave Rodriguez then spent a year organizing and reprocessing the original several small collections and new accessions into its current state. The collection is now housed in over 200 boxes in the Special Collections & Archives stacks.

The collection during reprocessing.


The images cover a wide time span, from FSU’s earliest iteration, the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, to the present. While the photographs date back as far as the 1800s, the bulk of the material is dated between 1920s to the 1970s.

The Platonic Debate Society, 1903.


Student reading, undated.

The images themselves depict every facet of life on campus, from construction and special events to students relaxing on Landis Green and action shots of athletics contests. Some notable items in the collection include prints from the Flying High Circus, Homecoming, and various theatrical performances. In addition, a series dedicated to buildings, faculty, and university presidents help give a complete view of what campus was like at any decade.


Andrews Brothers, undated.


Additionally, some images from the collection have been scanned and entered into FSU’s Digital Repository, Diginole.

The Flying Circus, undated.

For more information about Heritage & University Archives and the Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection, please contact Sandra Varry at svarry@fsu.edu or visit heritage.fsu.edu

Truth, Lies & Videotape: Digital Video Archivists Gather at MoMA

We live in a video age. Make that a digital video age. And all those digital video files flying around on the internet or downloaded onto your phone not only provide entertainment or inspiration to current viewers, but could be one of the best windows into our world for future historians. However, files designed to capitalize on the ever-changing whims of digital distribution may not be built for longevity, so archivists worry about their ability to stand as historical artifacts for the long term. Many of those archivists are part of an organization called The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), which held its annual Digital Asset Symposium (DAS) on June 6, 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art.

As the name suggests, DAS examines the shared challenges of managing and preserving digital media content across different sectors. The one-day conference assembles content creators, system designers, archivists, editors, and asset managers to compare experiences, share expertise, and offer creative solutions. Through a combination of case studies, key notes, and panels, DAS examines the full lifecycle of digital content.

DAS 2018 focused on the story of media assets—how they are created, maintained, shared, managed, and assembled to form the stories about the human condition. The program also highlighted the emergence of data science in the field: indeed, the conference started with a thought-provoking keynote called “Truth is a Lie,” in which data scientist Lora Aroyo and research scientist Chris Welty examined the concept of truth as not a single notion but a spectrum of opinions, perspectives, and context. Aroyo and Welty pointed out that data analysis often yields ambiguity and contradictions —so, instead of embracing a binary yes/no approach, they advocate the use quantum intelligence (based on the principles of quantum mechanics) as a new way of analyzing data. The goal is to create descriptions of online AV collections that incorporate a spectrum of truth.

Following that mind-expansive talk was a presentation from Nicole Martin of Human Rights Watch, an organization that has pioneered the use of video footage to highlight worldwide human rights abuses. In “Archiving Human Rights Video,” Martin discussed how daily production demands are balanced with the organization’s critical need to preserve evidentiary data. She discussed how the production team embraced digital preservation best practices to make its day-to-day tasks easier, while likely helping the relevance and longevity of these very significant documents. Later, Gian Klobusicky and Dalia R. Levine from HBO and metadata architect Sally Hubbard explored the relationship between information science and data science in “Smart Stacking of Data and Information Science.” The panel outlined how these two disciplines can partner together to solve problems that arise when dealing with media content.

The afternoon featured two cases studies. In “Bringing a Century of NHL Content to Life,” the director of the NHL’s Digital Asset Archive Dan Piro recounted the challenge of digitizing the NHL’s entire archive (250,000 hours of AV content, a half-million still images, and over a million documents) in 18 months (!) so that it could be used to create content celebrating the league’s centennial. That was followed by a look at the very high-tech Montreux Jazz Digital Project in “Object Storage and the Modern Media Archive,” in which Dr. Alain Dufaux, described the collaboration between the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the Claude Nobs Foundation The project includes over 5,000 hours of broadcast-quality live concert footage preserved digitally and transformed into an archive of “raw material,” which the university’s “Metamedia Center” uses to create such slick projects as its Jazz Heritage Lab.

Finally, the session wrapped with a special keynote panel called “The Making of Netflix’s Bobby Kennedy for President.” On the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert Kennedy, four key members of the production team discussed how this four-part documentary series came together. Led by moderator Matthew White, co-producer of The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, the panel traced the collaboration between the director, editor, and producers: how they sourced new archival material, how the search for this material served as inspiration, and how large-scale documentary series are performing critical preservation functions.

It was a fitting finale for a one-day conference that seemed to span continents, as well as the fruitful interrelations between science and art, politics and personal responsibility, and —especially— past and future.


International Archives Day

On Saturday, June 9, the National Archives joins with archives around the world to celebrate International Archives Day, a commemoration of the day the International Council on Archives (ICA) was created in 1948. This day is dedicated to promoting the great work of archives and archivists in preserving and providing public access to our communities’ historical records and promoting access to government records for transparency and accountability.

The National Archives is an active participant in the ICA. I am proud to stand beside our colleagues in the worldwide archival profession as we share and learn from each other, address common issues, and promote the value of archives and their importance to our society and democracy.

On International Archives Day, archives all over the world host special events to show off their collections or the work that they do, and share stories with each other and with fans of archives worldwide. You can see an interactive world map of International Archives Day events on the International Council on Archives website, along with a special online exhibition highlighting the history and activities of the ICA from 1948 to 2018.

Join the National Archives in this worldwide celebration for a special event in Washington, DC this Saturday, June 9, 2018, from 10:00am to 5:30pm. There will be hands-on activities in the Boeing Learning Center exploring the work of the National Archives and some of the important records protected here. Peruse the National Archives Museum and see some of the ways that American Memory is protected for current and future generations. This event is free and open to the public.

You can learn more about the history of International Archives Day and the involvement of the National Archives on our Pieces of History blog. We look forward to welcoming you at the National Archives Museum on June 9.

Recording Destruction

The Digital Library Center has been working with the FSU Department of Anthropology for several years now to digitize the materials created at the Windover dig site. We’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! However, as I loaded the last of the unit excavation forms, I realized something. I had absolutely no idea what these forms were! So, I sent off an email to Dr. Geoffrey Thomas for some clarification.

To start with, and something that I have never really thought about is that Archeology, the act of excavating, is an act of destruction. If they’re doing their jobs right, at the end of the dig, the site no longer exists. So, the hundreds of forms (For the Windover dig, over 600!), called Unit Excavation Forms, are used to record exactly what the archeologists were seeing as they dug the site. The site itself is divided into squares on a grid with each square having specific coordinates within the grid. Each form then corresponds to a specific square, or as they are called, unit.

Per Dr. Thomas, Unit Excavation forms’ primary role then, is to record the process of removal, layer by layer in each unit. Each form is labeled with information like the site name/number, the coordinates of the unit, the unit number that corresponds with a location on the grid, people working on that unit, and the level (depth) of the excavation. The workers then excavate in 10cm levels (ground – 10cm below surface = level 1) and so on to 90-100 cms = level 10. Each and every artifact is recorded as it is found and the workers make sure to mark the location within the unit, depth, and type of artifacts discovered. So, the unit forms and each level gets a form, then tell us what was found and where.

A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season
A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season [see all forms from Lot No. 1]

You stop digging in a unit when you hit a “sterile” layer, or after you have not hit new artifacts for a few levels. You then close that unit and start on a new one. After completion of a dig, the Unit Excavation Forms can be used to reconstruct each unit so that future researchers know where certain artifacts were found and in what context they belong within the dig site.

Pretty cool right? I also asked Dr. Thomas to think about what people will be able to learn now that these forms are online. Having the forms for the Windover dig online allows researchers and people interested in archaeology to gain information on, not only the process of archaeology but the specifics of the Windover site. If someone is interested in a particular burial and would like to find out the context of the burial (for example individual 90,  a subadult with a large number of grave goods), Dr. Thomas, or the patron themselves, could look up burial 90 and have the excavation forms for that unit. This will allow Dr. Thomas and the researcher to see the position of the body and locations of each artifact in the burial, along with any pictures of the burial site if any exist. This will hopefully greatly increase the amount of interpretive power we have for examining the remains and the way they were treated at death.

Now that we know what they are, enjoy browsing through and getting a picture of the Windover site from the unit excavation forms. You will also find field notes and photographs as part of the larger Windover collection. Happy “digging”!

Note: We are in the process of digitizing and loading x-rays and photographs of burials at the Windover site. However, due to the nature of that material and NAGPRA guidelines, those materials will be in collections with restricted access. Look soon for instructions on how to apply to use these types of materials for research in DigiNole.

Andrea Gibson and Pride Month at FSU

Happy Pride Month, Noles! This month, people across the world are commemorating the Stonewall riots of 1969 by rejoicing in the wide spectrum of gender identities and sexual preferences represented in humankind.

To celebrate, I went digging for poetry in our Pride Student Union Records, part of the Heritage and University Archives. I came across evidence of FSU’s past celebrations of Pride month (June) and LGBT History month (October, as National Coming Out Day is October 11th).

Pride Month poster from the past

Additionally, I found this poster signed by Andrea Gibson, poet extraordinaire and LGBTQ+ activist, who visited and performed at Florida State University in April of 2012.

Andrea Gibson poster, signed

Gibson is brilliant enough on paper, but their pieces are best consumed aurally, as the FSU students in 2012 had a chance to do; YouTube videos, fortunately, abound! Here is the love poem “Maybe I Need You”:

Andrea’s voice is one of hope and community, reminding readers and listeners that they are not alone in their feelings or experiences. I leave you with another example of Andrea’s stirring work, which pairs poetry to music and creates a moving, motivating portrait of a young person discovering who they are and who they want to be.

Check out FSU’s Pride Student Union, still in action since its beginning back in 1969 and still hosting on-campus events: http://sga.fsu.edu/pride.shtml 

And to you and yours: HAPPY PRIDE!

Creative Fellow Becci Davis Performs “Private Proclamations” on June 9

After nearly 8 months of research, planning, story-collecting, writing, and interdisciplinary art-making, PPL’s 2018 Creative Fellow Becci Davis has created a multi-part performance entitled “Private Proclamations.”

Private Proclamations

Please join us for Becci’s culminating performance next Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm as part of PVDFest. The performance will be outdoors, on the library’s Washington Street steps (near the historic entrance); it’s free of charge and open to the public, and no advance registration is required. In the words of the artist, “Private Proclamations is a performance about Black hair in three parts. Part One: Letters to my Locks establishes a level of intimacy between the performer and audience. In Part Two: Act It Loud, appropriate private behavior in public spaces is redefined through defiance. Part Three: Please Touch presents an invitation for change through collective action.”

Parking downtown will likely be tricky, as PVDFest brings numerous street closures and large crowds. Read more about parking and public transportation options on the PVDFest FAQ’s page.

Becci will also give an artist’s talk at the library about her process and her performance on the following Wednesday, June 13. We look forward to seeing you there!

Memorizing Math with Marmaduke Multiply

Poetry has, traditionally, served as an excellent way to remember things. The human brain just seems to better retain information that rhymes, and a rhythmic quality can bring the words to mind in an instant.

Lines that are intended to aid in memorization are called mnemonic verses, and we use them on a daily basis. Think of when you try to determine how many days are in a month: “Thirty days hath September…” Or when you consider how “neither” should be spelled: “I before E except after C…” Is that snake in your yard friend or foe? “Red on black, friend of Jack…”

There are even longer mnemonic verses for memorizing heftier material. For example, this witty little song for the history of the monarchy in England (sung to the tune of Good King Wenceslas):

Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
One, two, three Neds, Richard two
Harrys four, five, six... then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the bad,
Harrys twain and Ned the Lad;
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again...
William and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William and Victoria;
Edward seven next, and then
George the fifth in 1910;
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George the sixth was coronated;
After which Elizabeth
And that's the end until her death.
–Wikipedia, “Mnemonic verses of monarchs in England”

The little book from Special Collections that I’m sharing today is Marmaduke Multiply’s Merry Method of Making Minor Mathematicians of 1841. We have a facsimile of the work, which was a favorite among nineteenth-century schoolchildren for memorizing their numbers.

Originally published in 1816 and 1817, the book was largely popular in the UK, but it spread to the US toward the later half of the nineteenth century. The book has funny little woodcuts depicting various scenes and then a rhyming verse that helps the reader remember their times tables. Here are a few examples:

4 times 8 are 32, I once could dance as well as you.


6 times 8 are 48. Dear Aunt, your dress is out of date.


6 times 9 are 54. My little boat has come ashore.

Some of the most beautiful woodcut work appears on the borders. Here is close up of the corner piece on that last one:

Detail image of a corner woodcut.

Finally, my favorite page shows a child holding a book just like the one the image appears in! It also mentions the bookshop that sold Marmaduke Multiply’s Merry Method of Making Minor Mathematicians, which happened to be financially linked to the publishing house that produced the book (talk about savvy marketing!):

A little metatextual advertising!

What rhymes do you remember from childhood?


Marmaduke Multiply’s Merry Method of Making Minor Mathematicians. New York: Dover Publications, 1972. Print.

18th Annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards

Today and every day we celebrate the dedication and hard work of our staff and colleagues at the National Archives. Since 1985, the first full week of May has been set aside as Public Service Recognition Week to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees. It provides a fitting time to not only celebrate the contributions of National Archives staff but also the contributions of the entire federal workforce.

This year, we decided to expand to a whole Public Service Recognition Month, allowing us both to participate in the nationwide events and to honor service to the American public with the due measure it deserves. Earlier this week, we celebrated with the 18th Annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony, which gives me the opportunity to thank our staff for their passion and dedication to serving NARA’s mission and the American people.

During the ceremony, we once again gave our customers a chance to sing the praises of our employees. Almost every day I receive comments praising the work of NARA staff. We were able to incorporate some of these statements into the awards program to hear directly from the people who benefit from the great work that we do:

We had 72 nominations for awards this year. This Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony is an opportunity to acknowledge our colleagues who dedicate their time and talents to make the National Archives a great place to work, and recognize colleagues who went above and beyond expectations and succeeded in ways not intended.

This past year, staff across the National Archives scanned many pages for the National Archives Catalog, provided great customer service to House and Senate staffs, moved lots of Obama Presidential Materials, digitized and made available hundreds of reels of World War I and World War II footage, cultivated public participation through social media, assisted Puerto Rico’s archives and cultural institutions in their post-hurricane recovery, modernized the General Records Schedule, and developed and produced the Declarations@NPRC newsletter, providing essential communications to the employee community. And these are just a few examples! You can learn more about these incredible accomplishments in the awards program.

The Archivist’s Awards Ceremony is important to me. This event honors the remarkable work that happens at this agency every single day. And it gives me the opportunity to highlight some of the amazing accomplishments and the chance to say thank you. As I said to the staff at the ceremony: you are the most dedicated group of people. You take tremendous pride in the work you do, and rightfully so. And I am proud of what you do each and every day.

Thank you for your service, and Happy Public Service Recognition Month.


BC Gay and Lesbian Archives donated to the City of Vancouver Archives!

We are thrilled to announce that the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives, a collection established and maintained privately from 1976-2018, has been donated in its entirety to the City of Vancouver Archives.

Anti-violence rally, 1979. BCGLA Photographs series

The BC Gay and Lesbian Archives was established in 1976 by Ron Dutton, an active, longtime member of the Vancouver LGBTQ2+ community who is also trained as a librarian. For over forty years, Dutton acquired and described records, photographs, periodicals, ephemera, and audiovisual materials of significance to the LGBTQ2+ community in Vancouver and British Columbia, and provided access to these materials from his home to hundreds of researchers. Concerned with the future of the BCGLA as he ages, Dutton donated the entire collection to the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) in February 2018.

The collection consists of:

  • 16.4 metres of subject files
  • 8.6 metres of periodicals
  • 2000 posters
  • 7500 photographs
  • 220 moving image recordings
  • 60 sound recordings

Just a few of the many VHS videotapes in the BCGLA collection

The content includes:

  • video documentation of charity drag balls
  • extensive photo documentation of Pride Festivals from 1981 to 2009
  • textual, photographic, and video materials related to HIV/AIDS activism
  • subject files pertaining to such wide-ranging topics as art, immigration, censorship, gender identity, hate crimes, health services, religion, sports, and youth activism

Items from the subject file Age and aging – associations. Reference code: AM1675-S1-F0017

Dutton is a forward-thinking and inclusive collector who consciously sought to acquire materials representing a broad range of LGBTQ2+ experiences, identities, and activities. As such, the collection encompasses materials that reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ2+ community, including:

  • First Nations drag performers and HIV/AIDS activists
  • LGBTQ2+ community seniors
  • Transgender activists
  • Youth groups
  • LGBTQ2+ religious groups across a range of traditions

International Women’s Day march, 1993. BCGLA Photographs series

In speaking of his donation, Dutton says:

The BC Gay and Lesbian Archives was founded in 1976 to collect, organize, preserve and make publicly accessible the ongoing stories of Vancouver’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited communities, from earliest historical times to the present. In these 42 years, hundreds of researchers have passed through my home as they examined this ever-expanding collection. At 3/4 million items, it has now outgrown my ability to house it all.

I am thrilled that the BCG+L Archives now resides with the City Archives. The Archives has the technical resources and sympathetic staff needed to sensitively manage this collection, ensure its preservation, and position it within the context of the city’s overall history.  I intend to continue collecting both old and new materials that document my community’s evolution, for deposit at the City Archives.

We are honoured that Ron Dutton has chosen the City Archives as the permanent home for his collection. Not only does the collection reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ2+ community and its evolution over the past 40 years, it documents a community whose lives and activities have historically been underrepresented in archival holdings.

1987 International Lesbian Week, held in Vancouver. BCGLA Photographs series

Currently, all 2,181 subject files have been described in our database and are available to the public in the Archives’ Reading Room; periodicals are in process will be available by the fall. We are also in the process of seeking funding to describe and digitize the photographs and audiovisual materials in order to enable them to be discovered and used by researchers around the world, supporting the study of LGBTQ2+ history in Vancouver and beyond.