CAFe Speaker Series and Meet & Greet: Subject Analysis: Centering Historical Lives in Contemporary Archives

Event Start Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 - 3:00 pm

Event End Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 - 5:00 pm

Location: Virtual via Zoom and In Person - MITH

Please come early for the student/faculty meet and greet from 3-4pm (in-person only).


At the surface level, at the very least, the archival profession has moved towards an increased focus on marginalized and otherwise ignored voices within special collections. The excitement around this move has often focused on amorphous “community” engagement and “reparative description,” but with far less clarity on who compromises relevant communities and who created the initial description in need of repair.

This talk will explore ideas around centering the voices and experiences of the archival subjects in historical collections, particularly those marginalized subjects who have no contemporary community. There are a variety of instances in the profession where there are multiple right answers, and this talk makes no claim on absolutism. Through a combination of historical research and working experience, this talk will open discussion on how and who archives serve.


Dorothy Berry
Inaugural Digital Curator,
The National Museum of African-American History and Culture


Dorothy Berry is the inaugural Digital Curator for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. A Library Journal “Mover and Shaker” and winner of the Mark A. Greene “Emerging Leader” award from the Society of American Archivists, Berry has established a reputation as a leading thinker around the discoverability of Black special collections. Berry’s work has primarily approached the question of discoverability through the lens of archival description, digital collection development, and digital storytelling. Berry is an active member of the profession, serving on advisory boards for projects as wide-ranging as The Wheatley Census, designed to provide a bibliographic map of Phillis Wheatley-Peters first publication, and Archiving the Black Web, designed to put the power of digital preservation in the hands of Black creators. Beyond digital collections and projects developed at various institutions, her published work can be found in up//root, Lapham’s Quarterly, JSTOR Daily, and The Public Domain Review, where she is a contributing editor.


Speaker(s): Dorothy Berry


Research Talks/Events