NEA taking the past into the future

NEA Official Statements

  • 2020-06-06 1:50 PM | Kelli Bogan

    Black Lives Matter. Archivists must do better. 
    Statement from the New England Archivists Board
    June 6, 2020

    The Executive Board of the New England Archivists (NEA) unequivocally states that Black Lives Matter. We condemn the police brutality that violently ended the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and innumerable others. We condemn the racist individuals and corrupt systems that continually inflict violence and death upon people of color like Ahmaud Arbery and Nina Pop. We recognize that the history of the United States--and the history of so many archival collections that we steward--is rooted in slavery, genocide, and oppression. We stand in solidarity with all Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC), as well as their communities. 

    We acknowledge not only that structural racism exists, but specifically that archivists and archival work have played a role in perpetuating many oppressive systems. We recognize that archivists can be agents for change, but that reparative and diversity-focused efforts cannot be the sole responsibility of our BIPOC colleagues. Anti-racist actions must be taken by all archivists. NEA affirms its commitment to cultivating a more inclusive archival profession: one that values and preserves the evidence of human experiences, while also working to dismantle damaging archival practices that compound historical erasure and harm. 

    While the current political and social climates are immensely challenging for most of us, to Black Americans and people of color, these circumstances are yet another deadly escalation in a history full of hateful violence. We hope that NEA can serve as a source of opportunities for serious introspection, positive actions, and continued professional engagement that prioritizes the lives, experiences, and safety of BIPOC.

    To that end, the NEA Inclusion and Diversity Committee has compiled a list of readings, resources, and guidelines to support all of us in learning how we can work towards a more just society and more transparent, accountable archival practices. Included in this list are ideas for specific actions archivists can take in our work to create a truly representative historical record and provide better access to collections for all.

    Archivists must apply a critical lens to the work we do, identifying the power and privilege informing so many of our practices. In the coming days, the NEA board will develop concrete action items: progressive steps both to improve equity within our own organization and to assist our members in deconstructing oppressive environments within their workplaces. Likewise, we encourage our members to share resources they have found helpful, and to participate in ongoing dialogues about race, justice, and oppression. Discussing these issues and taking thoughtful action is the way forward. Silence is complicit.

    The New England Archivists Executive Board

  • 2020-02-25 2:48 PM | Michelle Chiles

    The New England Archivists supports equitable and transparent hiring practices for every individual. Therefore, effective immediately, the NEADiscuss listserv will no longer accept job postings that fail to include a salary or salary range in the job description. 

    The NEA Executive Board supports this change in policy and feels it directly aligns with the organization’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and the ethical guidelines set forth in our Code of Conduct

    All job postings must now pass through the listserv moderator, who will serve as the primary point person for sharing employment notices with NEA members. The NEA listserv policy has been updated to reflect these changes in practice.

    You can read that updated policy on the listserv page. 

  • 2018-10-19 3:49 PM | Michelle Chiles
    In June 2018, six archivists from UCLA Library Special Collections wrote an open letter critiquing the library’s increasing trend toward creating temporary archival positions instead of permanent professional-level positions. In their letter the archivists articulated the long-term, deleterious effects of contingent employment on the staff, the library, and the archival profession. They further requested that their temporary positions be converted into positions with potential permanent status. While the outcome of that request remains uncertain, the UCLA archivists’ letter garnered widespread support and helped to focus attention on a longstanding concern in the archival profession.

    The New England Archivists (NEA) recognizes that contingent employment in our profession is simultaneously valuable and problematic. While many archival professionals and institutions benefit from project-based employment, long-term reliance on this model in lieu of permanent employment is a concern requiring greater attention.

    In 2016, NEA launched an internal study to assess the nature and prevalence of contingent employment among archivists in New England. The comprehensive study indicated that temporary employment is both widespread in our region and embedded within the institutions in which many of us work. It is a complicated issue that cannot be resolved overnight.

    NEA recognizes that there are broader factors affecting contingent employment, including:

    ●       chronically under-funded institutions;
    expansion and perpetuation of the gig economy;
    imbalance in the supply of and demand for trained archivists;
    high cost of graduate education and resulting economic distress for those with debt;
    strong reliance on grant funding for staffing archival institutions.

    As long as these structural barriers impact our professional community, NEA will continue to counteract them through its ongoing advocacy work. The organization is invested in supporting all of its members—regardless of career stage, job configuration, or economic status—and, through its strategic plan, is working to better serve the needs of economically vulnerable colleagues in the region. Examples of our commitment include:

    ●       using results of the 2016 Contingent Employment Survey to develop new activities, programs, and venues for supporting contingently employed archival professionals;
    developing a wider range of training and educational opportunities for members at all career levels, with a particular focus on providing economical, accessible options;
    holding conference sessions and workshops that address personal/professional advocacy and organizing strategies;
    maintaining a robust mentorship program for those wanting to build skills and connect with other archival professionals in the region;
    offering a range of awards and scholarships that help to make participation more affordable.

    But there is still much work to be done.   

    In addition to pursuing recommendations from the Contingent Employment Survey report and continuing to fulfill NEA’s strategic plan, hearing directly from the people we serve is vital; the organization relies heavily on the membership’s feedback in the effort to build a stronger and inclusive organization. We invite all archivists and allied professionals in New England to share with us their ideas and strategies for better serving our diverse community. Working together to address this concern amplifies our voices and strengthens our efforts. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Karen Adler Abramson
    President, New England Archivists

    Rosemary K. J. Davis
    Rose Oliveira

    Co-chairs, Inclusion and Diversity Committee


  • 2017-05-30 9:37 AM | Michelle Chiles

    On May 23, the White House formally submitted to Congress its budget for next fiscal year, which proposes to eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Historical Preservation and Records Commission, arguing that support for libraries, archives, and museums should come from private sources and from local and state funding. Regarding the NEH and NEA, the justification for elimination reads: “the Administration does not consider the activities within this agency to be core Federal responsibilities.”  

    These agencies exist for the national public good. They have decades of experience and success in funding preservation and access projects that would not have been possible with private or local funding alone, and which promote broad understanding of history and cultural heritage.  Widespread historical literacy and perspective is in the national public interest. 

    It’s time to speak up!  Federal support for this work is necessary and right: archives are an essential element of an enduring democracy.

    Here’s what you can do:

    Call or write to your representatives in Congress!

    Share your Federal Funding Impact Story

    Reference NEA’s statement on the earlier budget draft

    NEA is committed to
    stewardship of history and the historical record.  These granting agencies—NEH, NEA, IMLS, and NHPRC—contribute substantially to stewardship of archives and records in repositories throughout New England. We urge not only our members but all those who use and value library, archival, and museum collections to advocate for their continuance. 

    New England Archivists Executive Board
    May 26, 2017

    Other resources:

    The federal budget proposal itself (see pages 96, 99, and 100)

    The NARA budget(defunding NHPRC)

    NEH statement on budget proposal

    IMLS statement on budget proposal

    National Humanities Alliance: Take Action

  • 2017-02-20 9:48 AM | Kelli Bogan

    On February 13, 2017, New England Archivists issued an official statement opposing political actions that discriminate against individuals and calling for a more transparent government and documentation of all government activities, regardless of political party. NEA stands ready to work with others to ensure that federal policies and funding recognize and support archives as an essential element of an enduring democracy.

    NEA Official Statement

    Actions of a government that impact access to information, discriminate against specific groups, and reduce government transparency are a threat to the core values of New England Archivists (NEA). We urge the new administration to pursue policies that promote access to information, protect against discrimination, and maintain transparency and funding for federal offices and programs that support preservation of our national heritage. Our statement is based on our understanding that the archive is essential to democracy. New England Archivists is a volunteer-run organization of professional archivists and records managers who live or work in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and beyond. 


    • Visibility and advancement of archival practice and of all individuals engaged in archival work and study. 
    • Community building with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. 
    • Encouraging collaboration, innovation, experimentation, and creativity across institutions and areas of expertise. 
    • Stewardship of history and the historical record. 
    • Transparency, integrity, and professional ethics. 
    Access to information and intellectual freedom are threatened when a budget blueprint advocates for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the cessation of federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, proposals we believe violate fundamental democratic values. Archivists democratize access to information by physically preserving, organizing, and describing historical materials so they can be found and used by all. When we are able to digitize historical materials and make them available online, we make they even more broadly accessible. Even with public funding through national endowments, archival repositories struggle to meet the demands from the public whom we serve. Elimination of funding and programs for arts, humanities, and broadcasting programs will challenge archival programs, scholarship, and the American public’s access to its own cultural heritage. Without the work of archivists, history is at risk of being lost, and collections that are saved would be accessible only to those wealthy enough to travel—if they are able to be saved at all.

    Many Americans who might otherwise never have the time or ability to do their own research in an archives can benefit from the work of others, thanks to, for example, the support for broadcasting provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Without federal funding, Ken Burns’s acclaimed and popular documentaries including “The Roosevelts,” “Jackie Robinson,” “The National Parks,” “Jazz,” and “The Civil War” would not have been made. If our government does not support the stewardship of history, it will be cutting off access to the nation’s bounteous cultural heritage, and our citizens will be much poorer for it.

    Discrimination against individuals restricts their access to archival resources, and as such diminishes scholarship and freedom. New England Archivists is committed to a diverse and inclusive community, and we join the Society of American Archivists in strongly opposing the discriminatory executive order issued by the Trump Administration on Friday, January 27, 2017, barring entry to the United States by individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). We oppose actions that discriminate against individuals and threaten individual rights. When groups are barred from entering the United States based on their religious or regional identity and their access to archival resources is denied, then both the pursuit of scholarship and the democratic access to information are threatened. 

    In addition to federal funding, stewardship of the historical record requires a transparent government and documentation of all government activities, regardless of political party. Responsible stewardship is not possible when publicly-funded research is buried, when federal agencies are ordered to stop sharing information, and when federal officials use personal and government Twitter accounts interchangeably. Democracy depends upon retention of, preservation of, and access to federal records. We urge the administration to adhere to archival principles and practices in documenting the work of the United States government. 


    New England Archivists Executive Board
    February 13, 2017 


    The Heritage Foundation. (2016). A Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017. Washington, DC.: The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from 

    Society of American Archivists. (2017) SAA Statement on Executive Order Restricting Entry into the United States by Individuals from Seven Muslim-Majority Countries [Press Release] Retrieved from saa-statement-on-executive-order-restricting-entry-into-the-united-states-by-individuals-from-seven

    Photo from Women's March, Washington DC

    Women’s March on Washington protestors taking a break on the steps of the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC., Saturday, January, 21, 2017. (Photograph by Jennifer Gunter King, President of NEA 2016-2017)

    Photo from Women's March, Washington, D.C.

    “Can’t Take Our Rights — They’re Archived” T-Shirt photographed at Metro Center during the Women’s March on Washington, Washington, DC., Saturday, January, 21, 2017. (Photograph by Jennifer Gunter King, President of NEA 2016-2017)

   Contact Us  Donate to NEA  Policies  
  Facebook icon Twitter icon Linked-in icon Vimeo icon Pinterest icon  

© New England Archivists. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software