Amye McCarther
President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York
Emily Andresini
Director of Publications, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

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“Waterfront, South Street, Manhattan,” 1935. Courtesy New York Public Library Digital Collections. Photo: Berenice Abbott / Federal Art Project

“… there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence.”

— — Italo Calvino, “Hidden Cities,” from Invisible Cities

The opening of the academic year and the fall season of the Archivists Round Table’s programming looks strikingly different from years past. The pandemic has halted our ability to gather together and socialize. The landscape for cultural heritage institutions and universities is unrecognizable from what it was only months ago. The city itself has emptied out in some sectors and spilled into the parks and streets others. …

By Megan Williams
Director of Programming, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York
& Zakiya Collier
Digital Archivist, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

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Zakiya Collier speaking at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2020. Courtesy the author

The theme of this Metropolitan Archivist issue is “Invisible City,” which had me thinking about the Audre Lorde article: Silence into Action. Lorde writes, “Within this country where racial difference creates a constant, if unspoken, distortion of vision, Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.” The invisible and hyper-visible duality of blackness can be understood as an ongoing cycle. Black suffering is largely ignored by society, but there are times, like this summer, when it becomes hyper-visible, only to be rendered invisible again when the moment has passed. …

By William Casari

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Save Hostos rally in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank at 149th Street near Third Avenue. The November 19, 1975 rally was the first major activity of the Community Coalition to Save Hostos (CCSH). Courtesy Wallace Edgecombe/Gerald J. Meyer Collection, Hostos Community College Archives and Special Collections/City University of New York). For more information on this image, see: CUNY Digital History Archive

At the beginning of this presentation, I thanked everyone who had ever signed a petition. It was names on a petition which began the fight to keep Hostos open, and ultimately saved it from closing in 1976.

This is the story of a South Bronx community that demanded its right to higher education and fought hard to save it: the story of Hostos Community College. The founding of Hostos Community College and its continued existence represents an act of rebellion against the mainstream. Named after Eugenio María de Hostos, the 19th century scholar, educator and trailblazer for the rights of women, Latinos and people of color, the Hostos campus sits less than a mile from Manhattan, but a world away.

Nicholas Martin
Vice President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York &
Curator for the Arts & Humanities, NYU Fales Library & Special Collections

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David Thomas, Simon Fowler, and Valerie Johnson. The Silence of the Archive. London: Facet Publishing, 2017. 187 pp. Paperback, £64.95

All archives tell a story. If we think of an archival source as one voice from the past, then for each document kept and preserved, we must also consider all of the voices from the past that remain unheard. The Silence of the Archive, foregrounded as “an attempt to peer into the silences” (xx), attempts to draw a roadmap for navigating the gaps between the pages. Presupposing a culture wherein archives are revered as uniquely authentic, comprehensive or truthful, the book seeks to identify and define the ever-present silences in archives, elucidating their various forms, root causes, implications, and uses. The three authors succeed in presenting a wide variety of often competing perspectives on all the things we don’t find in the archives. …

Interviewed by Emily Andresini
Director of Publications, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York
& Amye McCarther
President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

Video call interview with Sophie Glidden-Lyon, in conversation with Emily Andresini and Amye McCarther, recorded on October 7, 2020

Sophie Glidden-Lyon is the Manager of Digital and Special Projects at La Mama Archives and a Volunteer Coordinator at Interference Archive. This interview took place via video call with Metropolitan Archivist editors Emily Andresini and Amye McCarther on October 7, 2020. It has been edited for clarity.

Emily Andresini: Thank you for joining us. We are the Metropolitan Archivist, a publication of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York. We are joined by Sophie Glidden-Lyon, and Sophie is here to speak with us about her work with the Interference Archive and the La Mama Archive, as well. …

Interviewed by Amye McCarther
President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

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Ruth Kitchin Tillman (left) and Sandy Rodriguez (right), principal investigators on a team of Library, Archives, and Museums (LAM) professionals undertaking the IMLS-funded project, Collective Responsibility. Courtesy the authors

Sandy Rodriguez and Ruth Kitchin Tillman are co-PIs on a team of LAM professionals undertaking Collective Responsibility, an IMLS-funded project that seeks to address the specific problems of precarity created and reproduced by grant-funded positions, and how those impact the lives and careers of the workers, particularly workers from marginalized and underrepresented populations.

Amye McCarther: Thank you for taking the time to talk. Can you give our readers some context for how you both came to this project?

Ruth Kitchin Tillman: Precarious labor has been part of most of my adult life, whether my own or my husband’s as an adjunct. In the summer of 2016, I was acting as a grant reviewer and became concerned by how poorly-designed some of the positions were. I realized there was nothing I could cite to back up my assertions that this would harm the grant. After the DLF Forum 2016, between Stacie Williams’s keynote “All Labor is Local” and Bethany Nowviskie’s invitation to form groups to make change, I decided that there should be a working group on labor questions. …

Juana Suárez
Associate Arts Professor; Director, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts

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Picture taken in Diversity Plaza, fall 2019, before the pandemic. Courtesy Los Herederos Community Archives

The concept of “essential workers” has become particularly salient during the COVID-19 crisis, raising urgent questions of who are the essential workers and what defines them as such. New York City’s “essential population” is largely made up of undocumented, and low wage/underpaid individuals who have migrated to the US under very different circumstances, and whose contributions are extremely undervalued and politicized. The Queens neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights are home to a large population of these essential workers. …

Toby Carliner Sanchez
Archivist & Historian, East Midwood Jewish Center, Inc.

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The Braille Group, excerpted from “The Sisterhood Page in the 50th Anniversary Journal Without Names”,
Published in the “The Golden Book, Issued in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the East Midwood Jewish Center. Collection of the East Midwood Jewish Center, Inc.

The East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC) is a synagogue and community center in the heart of Brooklyn. Founded in 1924 to serve the needs of individuals and families at every stage of life, today it welcomes a wide range of learners and seekers, straight or LGBTQ, including interfaith families. From its earliest days to the present, women have been key players in the development of the EMJC, yet they are barely included in the eighty-four archival boxes that comprise the EMJC Archives. While the written history of the Men’s Club consists of over seven linear feet of materials, that of the Sisterhood, the women’s organization, is limited to less than half that amount, despite the robustness of their activities and programs. This imbalance in representation calls into question whether EMJC leaders failed to preserve the records of the Sisterhood or chose to ignore them. …

Chris Nicols
Film & Audiovisual Archivist, New York City Municipal Archives

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Still from “Rochdale Village; no Incidents.” 1963. NYPD. 16mm, 3 minutes. New York Police Department Surveillance Films, New York City Municipal Archives

From 1960 to 1980, the New York Police Department (NYPD) Bureau of Special Services and Investigations (BOSSI) recorded over 1,400 black and white 16mm silent films surveilling a wide array of social and political activities in New York City. This was done in the name of ensuring the safety and security of the City during a period of social and political upheaval related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Over the course of two decades, the NYPD surveilled New York residents participating in activities including rallies, public demonstrations, concerts, parades, riots, and more. Some of these films document well known figures or events from the period, such as Malcolm X or the Apollo 11 ticker tape parade. Other films document more obscure chapters in New York’s history, like an anti-papal Catholic movement led by the Seer of Bayside, Queens. …

Ostap Kin

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Lou Reed demo mailing envelope, 1965. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The Lou Reed papers were processed by the Archives Unit on behalf of the Music Division in the Library for the Performing Arts of the New York Public Library. In 2019, the Lou Reed papers became a recipient of the C.F.W. Coker Award from the Society of American Archivists.

On the website of The Society of American Archivists it was stated: “The Lou Reed papers serves as a model for finding aids by rigorously applying archival principles and standards in this large, multiformatted collection that included audiovisual and born-digital materials. (…) The New York Public Library was innovative in its approach to efficiently and expediently describe the contents given the size of the collection, which totaled more than 90 linear feet and 2.5 terabytes. In particular, New York Public Library’s use of data migration to combine minimal processing with item-level description maximizes the use of this collection without expending an exorbitant amount of labor on the project. …


Metropolitan Archivist

A publication of The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART).

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