Carolina archivists and partners receive national honors

May 18, 2018

Archivists from the University Libraries and their campus and community partners have been honored by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) as 2018 award recipients. The awards recognize 20 individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments and innovations.

Honorees who are involved with archival programs at the University Libraries are as follows:

Spotlight Award: Bernetiae Reed

Bernetiae Reed

Bernetiae Reed

SAA’s Spotlight Award recognizes individuals “who work for the good of the archives profession and of archival collections, and whose work would not typically receive public recognition.”

According to Bryan Giemza, director of the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the Wilson Special Collections Library, Bernetiae Reed is “the sort of tireless champion for communities and archives work who can easily go unnoticed.”

Reed is project documentarian and oral historian for the Southern Historical Collection’s community-driven archives team. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the team helps communities collect, preserve and represent their own histories.

Reed is a former nurse whose passion for archives has deep roots. She is the author of The Slave Families of Thomas Jefferson: A Pictorial Study Book with an Interpretation of His Farm Book in Genealogy Charts (2007). She has produced documentary films on Jefferson’s slaves and on the Greensboro Four.

Over decades, Reed built a personal archive and oral history collection to document individuals, events and social movements. These include the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina; the Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-ins; the 50th anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; the Tuskegee Airmen; and various North Carolina civil rights activists.

Some of these items now have a home at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Many are also available online through the Carolina Digital Repository, the University Libraries’s open-access digital archives.

Reed’s achievements are even more remarkable, says Giemza, because she carried out the majority of this work on her own, much of it while working full-time as a nurse. “She has done all this always with the same quiet, good-natured patience and unfailing vision, grounded in passion for capturing the stories of the least-heard members of society.”

Diversity Award: Maya from the Margins, by Dr. Patricia McAnany, Dr. Gabrielle Vail, and Biff Hollingsworth

Biff Hollingsworth

Biff Hollingsworth

A collaborative international project to help young people of Maya heritage study their history and culture received SAA’s Diversity Award, for advancing diversity in the archival record.

Maya from the Margins connected high school students from Morganton, North Carolina, with peers from Yucatán, Mexico. Over several months in 2017, the students explored their identity and heritage. Students visited the Wilson Special Collections Library and the State Archives of Yucatán.

The project culminated in a traveling exhibition that was on view in both North Carolina and Yucatán, with exchange visits in both locations.

SAA recognized three individuals at Carolina for their role in developing and coordinating Maya from the Margins: Southern Historical Collection archivist Biff Hollingsworth; Patricia McAnanay, Kenan Eminent Professor and chair of the anthropology department; and adjunct professor of anthropology Gabrielle Vail.

The program was funded by a Museums Connect grant, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the American Alliance of Museums. Along with the Library and the anthropology department, partners included the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC-Chapel Hill and the State Archives of Yucatán.

J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award: Representative Yvonne Lewis Holley

Yvonne Holley

N.C. Rep. Yvonne Holley

Although not an archivist herself, North Carolina Representative Yvonne Lewis Holley (NC-38) is a champion for archives and for preserving African-American family history. She has received SAA’s J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award. The award recognizes those who promote greater public awareness, appreciation or support of archival activities or programs.

In 2011, Holley donated her family papers to the Southern Historical Collection. Holley’s father was broadcaster J.D. Lewis, North Carolina’s first African-American radio announcer and a leading local figure for nearly five decades. Holley was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2012.

Holley has since worked with the SHC to cultivate other important collections about African-American life in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has also worked tirelessly to support archival initiatives, such as the SHC’s African American Families Documentation Initiative and efforts to create an endowed position for African-American collections and outreach.

With her generosity and persistence, Holley is an “ideal spokesperson” for the importance of African-American archival collections, says Giemza. “Her advocacy offers a national model for how legislators can speak up for the importance of archives.”

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