“Social contexts, individual and institutional biases, and structures of power influence how records are created, maintained, represented, and interpreted. Archival description plays a role in the representation of records – it shapes whether and how collections are discovered, navigated, and understood. Archivists decide, for example, which names and subjects will be included or omitted in description, and what language is used to represent and contextualize those subjects” (Lellman).
These guidelines were first written in 2020 by Matt Kruse (Processing Archivist), Nelissa Caraballo-Ramos (Bilingual Processing Archivist), and Steve Hersh (GRR Public and Support Services Assistant) with input and collaborative support from other UF library staff. This document was originally conceived as part of an effort to re-examine the description of our legacy finding aids in an effort to make them more inclusive and accessible to researchers, while still maintaining their original historical context and integrity. As part of this project it was determined that we should also look to improve the description of future finding aids by developing a set of written guidelines to inform and train future archives staff and student workers when describing collections.
The guidelines outlined in this document are based on scholarly research and guidelines created by other archival institutions. We have listed citations pointing to works cited and additional resources below. We especially owe thanks to Charlotte G. Lellman’s Policies and Procedures Manual guidelines for the Harvard Center for the History of Medicine on inclusive description, which have formed the basis for much our document’s content and structure.
We recognize that language is constantly evolving and represents worldviews, ideologies and perspectives of a particular time. As such, these guidelines are a living document and seeks to create language that is inclusive, respectful and culturally aware of the individuals, groups and communities that are represented in our collections.
Anti-Racist Description Resources---. Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia’s Anti-Racist Description Working group, Oct. 2019, https://archivesforblacklives.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/ardr_final.pdf. (Cited above as “A4BLIP”)
Lellman, Charlotte G. “Guidelines for Inclusive and Conscientious Description.” Center for the History of Medicine: Policies & Procedures Manual. Harvard University, July 6, 2020, https://wiki.harvard.edu/confluence/display/hmschommanual/Guidelines+for+Inclusive+and+Conscientious+Description#GuidelinesforInclusiveandConscientiousDescription-Audience&Accessibility. Accessed August 3, 2020. (Cited above as “Lellman”)
Masta, Stephanie. “Disrupting Colonial Narratives in the Curriculum.” Multicultural Perspectives, vol. 18, no. 4, 2016, pp. 185–191. (Cited above as “Masta)
Geraci, N., Hanover L., and Shein, C. “Practicing Inclusive Archival Description”. Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting Long Beach, California. April 24-27, 2019, https://static.sched.com/hosted_files/agm2019/76/SCA%202019%20inclusive%20description%20PRESENTATION%20SLIDES.pdf. Accessed August 7, 2020. (Cited above as Geraci, Hanover and Shein)
Larade, Sharon, and Johanne Pelletier. “Mediating in a Neutral Environment: Gender-Inclusive or Neutral Language in Archival Descriptions” Archivaria, 35 (1992): 99-109, https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/11889/12842. (Cited above as Larade and Pelletier)
Albright, Charlotte. “’Change the Subject’: A Hard-Fought Battle Over Words” Dartmouth News, April 22, 2019, https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2019/04/change-subject-hard-fought-battle-over-words. Accessed August 3, 2020. (Cited above as “Albright”)
P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. “Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help” community-sourced document, https://naacpculpeper.org/resources/writing-about-slavery-this-might-help/. Accessed August 3, 2020. (Cited above as “Foreman”)
Coleman, Nancy. “Why We’re Capitalizing Black”. The New York Times, July 20, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/insider/capitalized-black.html. Accessed March 11,2020. (Cited above as “Coleman”)