Until now, I was a lifelong midwesterner. I spent my childhood in Wisconsin and then earned my BA in English at the University of Minnesota. I stayed in the Twin Cities for two more years after graduation working in the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections as the project manager for Umbra Search African American History (umbrasearch.org). Umbra Search is a digital aggregation of African American history materials from libraries, archives, and cultural history institutions across the country.
3) What projects or people have inspired your work?
Naturally, a lot of inspiration comes from Umbra Search: the project itself, the project team, and the countless partners at libraries. Folks from projects such as the Colored Conventions Project, AADHum at University of Maryland, Diversifying the Digital Historical Record, and Mukurtu have shaped how I want to approach engaging scholarship and archival projects.
It’s an understatement to say I’m inspired by Paula Rabinowitz, an incredible writer and captivating teacher. Paula has the ability to bring the entire world into a single piece of scholarship. It’s beautiful and a little intimidating! She supervised my thesis project and is the reason I ended up in grad school.
I’d like to expand on what I was doing on Umbra Search while I’m here. I want to keep thinking about silence and absence in archival collections, something that is fundamental to African American collections, and how digital projects might not just fill in the gaps, but also call attention to them. I’ve also been interested in copyright: how it’s used and abused in the name of access. The conundrum of copyright is particularly thorny, again, for African American collections; collections often filled with materials that were stolen or their authors denied copyright. Ultimately, these two questions — copyright and absence in African American collections — are also wrapped up in the infrastructure and administration of cultural heritage institutions. I’d like to think about how these all (copyright, collections, and infrastructure) intersect and try to identify a more responsible and sustainable approach to collection development and access.
So — I certainly hope I’ll find ample opportunity to work in collections at the Harry Ransom Center. After attending Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching on campus this summer, I’m also eager to get involved in DH projects. I’m eager to take advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunities on campus.
5) What are your goals for graduate school? What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?