Stories, Maps, and Punk Rock Archives: An NEA Conference Recap

March 31st, 2014

-By Sylvie Rollason-Cass, Partner Specialist


Last week I traded sandals for snow boots to attend the New England Archivists (NEA) Spring 2014 meeting in Portsmouth NH. As a Midwest transplant living on the West Coast, meeting with New England archivists was a brand new experience for me. I was excited to learn from professionals working in an area with such a rich archival history. Since we on the Archive-It team are on the heels of our 4.9 release and working on 5.0, it was especially exciting to be able meet with a number of our Archive-It partners in person, as well as folks interested in learning more about Archive-It. We had a lot to talk about!

But back to the conference…

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a number of the sessions, and chose to focus primarily on discussions of digital and web archiving. Here is a little more info about a few that stood out:

A conversation with Ian MacKaye:

Ian MacKaye, a punk rock icon with archivist leanings, discussed his Fugazi Live Series archive. He and his team spent countless hours and much of their own money to digitize over a decade’s worth of cassette tapes of Fugazi live shows and compiled them into a website that allows users to download a copy for as little as $1 (or as much as you’d like to contribute).

Nostalgia, Art & the Archive:

A discussion of creative and unusual ways archival materials have been used and issues surrounding their re-use. Specific topics that were covered included the WhatWasThere project, hauntological music, and colorizing historical photographs.

Sharing Stories: The NEA/StoryCorps Project World Café:

Archivists involved in the NEA 2013 Story Corps project with the Worchester, MA community discussed how the project came to be, the role of oral histories in libraries and archives, and some personal experiences interviewing and being interviewed for the project.

Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archives Roundtable & discussion:

Our Marathon is a “memorial and long term preservation project” to collect and preserve content related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. So far their collection contains photos, videos, oral histories, and web content. The Archive-It team is partnering with the Our Marathon project to incorporate content from our Boston Marathon Bombing collection into the Our Marathon collection. (Keep an eye out for more info about that)

I also had the opportunity to sit in on some of the NEA Jeopardy Tournament. It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately my knowledge of NEA history and New England archival repositories is pretty limited, I was much more comfortable on the sidelines!

Other session topics included open source tools, corporate archival collections, social media, and moving image and sound archives (just to name a few). There just weren’t enough hours in the day to hear more, but I’ll be looking forward to next year!

Descriptions of the sessions are available on the NEA Spring Meeting page, and you can read the tweets on the NEA Spring 2014 Storify.