By Melissa Pankuch
On October 3rd, SAASC was honored to have Lynn Downey in conversation to share her experiences as an archivist, historian, and author.
After an early position as an archivist for the real estate developer Mason-McDuffie, Lynn spent over 20 years as the corporate historian for Levi Strauss & Co., the iconic American institution famous for its denim jeans. During her time at the company, Downey sought out a variety of opportunities to hone her writing skills. Her position included marketing activities such as working with reporters who were researching the company. She also learned to embrace social media as a tool for sharing the heritage of Strauss & Co in short form entries such as Facebook posts and tweets. Downey traveled the country to promote the company at events and on television, including a spot on Oprah! Most importantly, Downey had strong communication with company leadership, and was able to pursue a lot of writing that she had personal interest in by illustrating its connection back to the company. This communication was certainly a factor when Downey negotiated to write the official Levi Strauss biography after her time with the company.
Downey also provided quality advice for archivists who are looking to become writers. She explained that she processes a book project much like she would process an archival collection. She first studies and reads as much as she can about the subject, and uses that information to create an organizational structure for the book. This compilation of materials can often be a tricky task. When writing the Levi Strauss biography, Downey hit a roadblock in the process because many of Strauss’ personal records were destroyed in the San Francisco 1906 fire. Therefore, she traveled to Germany and Panama to gather information from other sources to complete the organizational structure for her book.
She also stressed the importance of creating a timeline in order to see the topic develop over time. For the Strauss project, Downey’s timeline is over 100 pages long! She also stressed that aspiring writers should read and write as often as they can, citing Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life as transformative texts in her journey as a writer. Downey also recommended that authors seek to work with university presses as opposed to seeking representation from a literary agent and working with larger publications. With university presses, the author-archivist is able to maintain a level of ownership over their project that other publishers may not provide.
Her current project, Life in a Lung Resort, tells the story of her grandmother’s time in Arequipa, a tuberculosis sanitorium, in 1920’s California. The site of the sanitorium is now the home of a Girl Scout camp. Downey tracked down the institutional records that were saved by a man who kept them in his shed so they would not be thrown away. Downey obtained the records, processed them, and donated them to the Bancroft Library (finding aid can be found here.) We look forward to reading Life in a Lung Resort, set to be released in the fall of next year, and to reading more from Lynn Downey in the future!
Are you interested in writing? Would you like to add publication to your resumé?
Archeota is looking for original articles to publish in our upcoming issue. We invite you to send us your ideas.
If you’re interested in submitting something, but need some suggestions for what you could write, here are some ideas to get you inspired:
Or find inspiration in any of our previous issues, archived on our website, at:
Please note, you DO NOT need to be a member of SAA to contribute to Archeota.
October is American Archives Month! It’s an entire month dedicated to spreading awareness and bringing attention to archival institutions. Whether it’s your first semester learning about records and retention schedules, finding aids and metadata, or it’s your last semester and you’re looking forward to beginning your career, you probably already know that there is not a lot of understanding out in the world about what archivists do. There seems to always be confusion when I say to someone, “I’m studying to be an archivist.” Common responses I’ve gotten range from, “What’s that?’ to “Hasn’t the Internet made it so we don’t even need archivists anymore?” This gap in understanding and awareness needs to be bridged.
In 2006, the Society of American Archivists created this month-long celebration to provide the “opportunity to tell (or remind) people that items that are important to them are being preserved, cataloged, cared for, and made accessible by archivists.” Archives Month is so important because it gives us a chance to spread the word about what we do, what we’re studying, and why archives are necessary. It also gives us the chance to feature some incredible archives doing important work!
This month we will be posting items using #ArchivesMonth and we hope you’ll search through the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. Spend some time exploring what archives are doing across the country to celebrate and educate. On October 3, we’ll be taking part in Ask an Archivist day, where we’ll be asking questions of archivists and sharing responses. We’ll also be featuring 10 archival institutions this month that we think should be getting attention and praise for the work they do.
Follow along as we explore our featured archives and spread awareness of the archival profession. We’re hopeful that activities like these can change minds, create inspiration and foster excitement in archival institutions, and maybe (just maybe) next time you say to someone, “I’m studying to be an archivist” they’ll say, “Archives are essential parts of our collective cultural and historical memory. We should be supporting them as much as we can. I love archives!
SAASC invites you to join us for an online event:
"The Archivist as Author: A Conversation with Lynn Downey"
Wednesday, October 3rd, 6pm - 7pm
Former Levi Strauss & Co corporate historian Lynn Downey shares her experiences as both a published author and an archivist. She'll provide insights on her writing process and how her background in archives influences her writing, followed by a Q&A.
Check out more about our guest on her website: www.lynndowney.com
Please register for this event using the Zoom link: https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/498196257
Individuals requiring real-time captioning or other accommodations
should contact Dr. Sue Alman as soon as possible.
September 21, 2018 @ 3:45
The Archives of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was established through the generous support of planning and implementation grants awarded by the Getty Foundation in 2004 and 2007 through the special initiatives “On the Record: Art in LA 1945-1980” and “Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980.” It is the repository for LACMA’s institutional records of enduring value; collecting, preserving, and making them available through the Balch Art Research Library.
Tour begins at 4pm and should last a little over an hour. Stay after to explore the museum with your fellow students (open until 8pm) and mingle at the free jazz concert in the outdoor plaza (starts at 6pm).
Space is limited.
RSVP to: https://goo.gl/forms/W5OrL7geJvKUecME3
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! We are already two weeks into the semester, and I hope everyone is having an exciting start to their Fall classes. My fellow SAASC officers and I have been working to prepare some exciting events for the upcoming year, and we can’t wait to start announcing these. Keep an eye on our Events page!
Recently we have several students reach out to us to find out how they can get involved with SAASC, so I thought I’d share with you some information about that. We currently have three main “Teams” and we are looking for team-members for ALL of them.
Our Events Team is coordinated by our vice-chair, Courtney. She's spending several hours a week sending emails and tracking communication with people with whom we're trying to arrange upcoming webinars and site-visits. If you have ideas for webinars or site-visits in your area, and are willing to reach out to people via email or telephone in order to arrange those kinds of events (it's not terribly intimidating, really, and it's kind of a nice way to "meet" people and make connections), we would love to have your help. We could also use some people adept at Zoom to help us run online events, if that’s your area of expertise.
Our Social Media/Web Team is led by our secretary, Anna Belle. It would be great to find people to help her organize some social media posts -- maybe seek out interesting blog posts to share with our Facebook group, fun or funny Tweets to RT, or news stories to share. If you’re interested in writing or editing, we would love for student members to get a chance to contribute short original posts about school, jobs, and internships here on our blog. We could also use help writing event announcements, or even adding interesting content to our website.
We also have need for students to help out with Archeota, our online bi-annual publication. Archeota is currently managed by our former chair, Jennifer. If you’re interested in writing a short article, we are especially interested in students’ experiences with internships and conferences. Or submit an interview with an archivist you know or work with. We would also appreciate help with planning for content and getting in touch with contributors, as well as editing and proofreading before publication.
It may seem that student organizations just run on their own, but in truth they all require the time and effort of students like me and you! As they say, “Many hands make light work.” Getting involved in a student organization has certain benefits, of course: it helps you build a network of friends and peers (which is a real challenge in our online environment); it provides experience that you can use on a CV, resumé or your ePortfolio; and it gives you the satisfaction of helping make our student chapter of SAA exceptional.
If you want to learn more, our Annual Members’ Meeting is coming up next week, Wednesday September 5 @ 6pm, and we would love for you to join us. We plan to talk about how you can get involved, attend events, and get some great membership benefits! Join us on Zoom: https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/865317282.
Also, we would love to get your opinion on what you would like to see from us this year - members’ input is extremely valuable to us as we continue planning events. Please fill out a quick survey here: http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com/2018-fall-planning-survey.html or even just email us your ideas.
I hope to see you next week!
The Society of American Archivists Student Chapter would like to formally congratulate the incoming officers for the 2018-2019 academic year!
Chair - Sarah Thornton
Vice-Chair - Courtney Hopkins
Secretary - Anna Belle Peterson
For all of you with archivist inclinations, please don't hesitate to get involved! SAASC is always looking for people to participate on our Events Team, Web Team, or to write an article for our online publication Archeota.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or check out our website: http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com/
The Society of American Archivist Student Chapter is pleased to announce we are putting three unopposed nominees forward for the positions of Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary for the 2018-19 academic year and move to cancel the election. The membership has one week to oppose this motion. To oppose, please send an email to email@example.com by May 22, 2018 at midnight Pacific time.
And the nominees are...
Sarah Thornton – Chair
I will begin my third semester in the MLIS program in August. Now that I've completed the initial required courses for the MLIS, I am very excited to begin my journey on the archival studies pathway. I love history, and have a special passion for local history. I have a previous M.A. in American Studies, with an emphasis in historic preservation and public history. The historical research required during that program revealed to me, not just how vital archives are, but more importantly how vital archivists are, not only for maintaining and preserving records and objects, but for providing informational organization and access. I am very excited to eventually join these illustrious ranks.
I am a military spouse and the mother of three daughters, which means that my goals would not be possible without the flexibility of SJSU's iSchool program. Although I am incredibly grateful that this opportunity is available to me, I am finding that the online format can be a real challenge to building relationships with other students and faculty. Considering this, I see SAASC as a vital resource for students on the archival studies pathway, providing opportunities to network with one another and to also gain valuable insights into the archival profession just as we are gearing up to enter it. I would consider it an honor to provide leadership as Chair for SJSU's student chapter of SAA.
Courtney Hopkins – Vice Chair
I graduated from Connecticut College with a major in Sociology and a minor in Film Studies. After several jobs in the entertainment industry, I found my way to a career in visual research. First at Corbis, and now at Getty Images, I help clients find the right photos and/or videos to tell their stories. The projects I work on range from documentaries to scripted shows to advertising to corporate. My searches include our online content as well as in-house and external archival material. I understand the importance of accurate metadata and captions so content can be discovered. I also reach out to contributors and image partners to look for material or get approval for commercial uses. My job is a combination of design, business and technology, navigating through conceptual visual requests, online searching, digital curation, licensing rights, and clearance and copyright issues for different collections, content partner relationships, and back-end databases.
I have taken advantage of continuing education opportunities wherever possible, and finally decided to take courses which will result in an advanced degree. I will begin my SJSU MLIS journey this summer with two open classes - Film and Media and Fundamentals of Programming.
Anna Belle Peterson – Secretary
I am interested in nominating myself for secretary. I began the MARA program a year ago and since then have found a passion for the archival field and I am interested in becoming more active in the SAA student chapter. As I am completing the program one course at a time while working full-time, I have several semesters before I will be graduating. I would love the chance to learn more about the archival field and to engage with other students in the SAA chapter.
Thank you to our nominees and members for helping us keep the chapter alive. We look forward to formalizing positions and looking ahead to the upcoming school year!
SJSU SAASC Election 2018
Keep the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter an active and integral part of the SJSU iSchool student life by taking on a leadership role! By becoming a member of the executive committee, you will be plugged into the pulse of the iSchool, develop important leadership skills that translate well into your career, AND create essential evidence for your e-portfolio! No prior experience is necessary!
April 2-20 (nomination period); April 23-May 1 (voting period)
Act as the executive authority on all matters concerning the functioning of the SAASC and its relationship with the SAA, iSchool, and SJSU; plan, announce, and moderate meetings; oversee the content of the SAASC web site and social media presence, including communications through the current SJSU online learning interface (Canvas); supervise the production and distribution of publications; annually update and renew SAASC’s recognition status with SJSU; collect all relevant documents to be housed in the SAASC archives; and facilitate the compilation and submittal of the annual report to SAA.
Assume the office of the Chair should it be vacated during the stated term of office; assume the duties of the Chair when he/she is absent; assist with any functions designated by the Chair; plan and coordinate the organization of events in cooperation with the executive committee and the general membership; identify and announce events held outside, but relevant to SAASC; form ad hoc committees as needed; and assist with the compilation of the annual report to SAA.
Maintain a complete and current roster of all members; record the minutes of each meeting; maintain the SAASC web site, online learning and communication portal (Canvas), social media accounts, and its links to the following web sites: SAA, iSchool, and SJSU; establish links with the web sites of other related organizations, as appropriate; ensure the Events page of the web site is updated; and assist with the compilation of the annual report to SAA.
Self-nominations are welcome! Must be an SAASC member, and have proof of SAA membership by start of 2017-18 academic year. Must also attend an online transition meeting – TBD.
To submit a nomination: email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following
- Name, Phone Number, Email Address
- Position Desired
- Personal Statement