aethel: (K/S cave story)
20 years out of date, but some of the issues discussed are, alas, still with us. One article reminded me a little of the controversy with University of Iowa's zine archives. From "The Archivist's Balancing Act: Helping Researchers While Protecting Individual Privacy" by Judith Schwarz:
Amid the complex motives of donors, there is often a desire to establish a favorable historical image of the record-creating institution, family, or person. That desire can lead to a destruction of some materials before any are donated and to restrictions on access to what is saved. A second activity is research, and one motive of researchers is the desire to examine all the documents that may bear on their topics. A third activity is collecting materials that document the history of a region, profession, social class, movement, or racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual community. The motives of collectors often include the desire to affirm the documented group's identity and to convince others of its legitimacy by enshrining its particular past.

The writer later describes an incident with a collection of the papers of the Daughters of Bilitis that had been rescued from someone's basement:
A woman who had written one or two letters in the early 1960s to DOB found out that the collection had been given to us and wrote a passionately angry letter, demanding that we destroy the entire collection. She argued that by preserving the letters without individual permission from each writer, we would cause great psychic distress and possibly even physical harm to the women involved.... Her sense of stigma and self-hatred was enormous in the beginning, causing us untold hours of anguished labor and concern. Yet an archivist of any minority despised by the society at large must be willing to work with people uneasy about the records they have created before their history is destroyed. The donor is not the enemy. She is a victim of the situation that gives us reason to exist -- the devaluing of human lives.

Not to suggest that fans are a persecuted minority. Just, there's nothing new under the sun.


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æthel the aardvark

September 2017

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