Archives and Digital Access

My current research enables cultural heritage institutions to better understand the impact of digitization and online technology. I am investigating how institutions balance the challenges of transforming analog archives into digital formats with the simultaneous opening up and creation of new possibilities for archival access and interpretation.

My primary focus here is “virtual reunification,” the institutional strategy of reassembling physically dispersed heritage collections to produce a consolidated, digitized representation of scattered artifacts, literary and artistic works, and/or archival records of a single origin or common provenance. This work builds on research that I began in my dissertation, which I have since published in an article in the Library Quarterly (summer 2014).

Archives and Memory

In studying the relationship of archives and memory, I examine how archival records and archival repositories contribute to the creation and preservation of collective memory as well as in achieving social justice. My interest in archives, community, and collective memory led me to explore the emergence of collective memory as a concept in archival studies. This is demonstrated by the article in Archival Science (spring 2013), which I co-authored with Trond Jacobsen and Margaret Hedstrom, titled “Collective Memory: Mapping the Concept in Archival Literature.” We used citation and network analysis of articles in leading archival journals to gauge the concept of “collective memory” in archival publications, which allowed us to analyze the influence of individual scholars, map the emergence of new ideas in the archival discourse, and analyze citation frequency of well-known works.

I have been particularly interested in colonial archives as they are re-interpreted in postcolonial communities. In May and June 2009, I worked in Techiman, Ghana, to establish the archives of the traditional council and studied the impact of placing this archival unit within a proposed community heritage center. From 2005 to 2006, I was archivist at and curator of a new museum exhibit in Culion, a former leprosarium in the Philippines.

Archival Education and Scholarship

As an academic field, archival studies is relatively new. Archival academics are thus faced with the challenge of further developing and enhancing research and teaching in the field. Part of my responsibility goes beyond producing research output, but also toward strengthening the infrastructure for archival education and scholarship. This includes developing venues for peer-reviewed publications and presentation of research as well as enhancing current archival course work to reflect changes in professional practice. I am currently pursuing three projects that contribute to this endeavor.

Visual Materials in Archives

My work also focuses on visual materials in archives, and I have developed methods for understanding use of archival visual materials. In 2012, I co-authored “Fields of Vision,” with Prof. Paul Conway (Univ. of Michigan), which received the Hugh Taylor Award from the Association of Canadian Archivists.