Thursday Morning at NACCS

I’ve spent the morning giving my talk –which I’m going to post here as soon as I figure out how to put it up– and attending sessions at NACCS.  My first response to my first experience attending this conference is WOW — there are a lot of Chicanos and Chicanas here.  Everyone is friendly and have been nothing but supportive, interested and above all enthusiastic.  There’s a lot of celebration and old friends meeting, but a great deal of concern about the attacks on ethnic studies, especially those under way in Arizona.

I’m taking a break to get a little food and to blog about this presentation before I stop being able to read my notes.

I tried to tweet the sessions but (so far anyway) I haven’t been able to get onto wifi at the hotel I have just been given wifi access so my tweeting has been was limited to what I can do on my phone.  This was less than successful — I type too slow on it to really be able to keep up, plus my battery bit it half way through the second session.

The second session was a great presentation called “Chicana/a Archives and the Chicano Movement: A Discussion” by Southern California archivists working on building or maintaining university archives on Chicano/a history and community.

Even before the discussion started, they shared a link to a great resource — a picture archive on farmworker history called The Farmworker Movement Documentation Project.   It has a great  digital archive of documents and photo resources.

Richard Griswold del Castillo started the discussion by stating the importance of archives to the Chicano/a community.  He named some — Bancroft and the Chicano/a collection at UC Berkeley, UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, the art collection at UC Santa Barbara, Chicano Archive University of Texas at Austin, and the Chicano collection at Stanford. Big universities have built collections, he explained. State universities are seen as not having the resources, librarians and policies that put value on collection.  This is political too as what’s collected reflects the values of the system that collects it.

Discussed the need that caused the Chicana and Chicano Archive at SDSU.  It’s a community based archive focusing on the Chicano/a Movement / Struggle 1960s to present in the San Diego – Tijuana region.  Also a specific focus on the contributions of Chicanas to the Chicano movement.

What they collect:

  • videos & films (including an amazing home video on the building of Chicano Park)
  • photographs
  • computer files
  • manuscripts
  • rare and old newspapers
  • handwritten notes
  • oral histories
  • Chicano Studies department history

Rita Sanchez added that it’s important to understand people and their families’ emotional attachment to their papers, posters and photographs.  Yet the building of the archive connected community to the university — lots of people from off-campus attended events.

Their plan is now to take the opening exhibit back to Logan Barrio.

Rita Sanchez went on talk about the importance of the archive and of archiving.  That people’s minds need to be changed about its importance. Items get lost and stolen or rained on and she urged the audience to contribute their papers and record their presentations.  She also suggested making history by keeping a journal of day to day life and struggle — these control how the history gets written.  The archive can be open or it can be controlled — history can be taken away.

Lizette Guerra, archivist for UCLA’s CRSC discussed memory and the nature of remembering, asking what do we remember and what do we forget, what biases are transmitted through selection of memories.  The effects whose story gets told and how, especially in underserved and represented communities.  Community archives creates and preserves community memory.

She outlined CRSC initiatives which include:

  • photo documentation project
  • post WW2 initiatives
  • LGBT and Mujeres initiatives
  • Latino art and artist survey – art in Los Angeles.  (these are oral histories)

She and the CRSC are advocates for the creation of archival spaces and community — “Everyone is a Lincoln.” ~ Yolanda Retter Vargas

“You don’t have to donate to me, but donate somewhere.”

The last presentation was by Romelia Salinas about a very new project the East Los Angeles Archive, which is housed at CSULA .

Proposes to cover:

  • East LA Blowouts
  • CSULA student movement
  • Brown Berets
  • Chicano anti war movement

About the community, keeping it in the community — with East LA an expression of community not geography.

Proposes to serve:

  • primary source research collection with emphasis on Chicano Movement
  • national and international resource
  • further connection of CSULA with local community
  • enhance the recruitment of faculty and students with scholarly interest in subject.

First donation: Gloria Arellanes Papers.  Held reception with lots of off campus people attending, good publicity and undergraduates already using papers as part of a class.

Question: How do undergraduates use papers? Answer: Griswald del Castillo– has them write a five page paper using only the materials they locate in the archive.

My thoughts: Amazing presentation.  And when I talked with Lizette afterwards, she invited me to archive a copy of my dissertation at the CRSC — I was stunned speechless, honored and of course I’m going to!