Conscious Editing Initiative

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The Conscious Editing Initiative seeks to redress inequities and injustice in the descriptive language and narrative framing of archives and special collections. Conscious editing is an active, critical awareness of bias, privilege, and power and an ethos of deliberate care used in the assessment, creation, and refinement of descriptive texts. One outcome of conscious editing is the increased accessibility of our collections in unserved and underserved communities seeking meaningful connections with their ancestors and their histories.

The Conscious Editing Steering Committee supports ethical and inclusive descriptive practices in Wilson Special Collections Library by encouraging the ongoing, reflective examination of legacy descriptions, by engaging colleagues in a continuous dialog about that examination, and by connecting practice with scholarship, theory, and contemporary social justice activism.

The committee is also developing the Guide to Conscious Editing at Wilson Special Collections Library. The Guide will document and clarify the reframing of our collections’ narratives to center those who have been silenced, marginalized, and erased in the historical records we steward.

Committee membership

  • Meaghan Alston
  • Michelle Cronquist
  • Monica Figueroa
  • Laura Hart
  • Dawne Lucas, Co-Chair
  • Sonoe Nakasone
  • Rachel Reynolds
  • Aaron Smithers, Co-Chair
  • Kimber Thomas

Past members

  • Jennifer Coggins
  • Jackie Dean
  • Tierra Thomas


Dean, J. “Conscious Editing of Archival Description at UNC-Chapel Hill.” Journal of the Society for North Carolina Archivists 16 (2019): 41-55.

Hart, L. “Conscious Language for a Jim Crow Archive.” Carolina Digital Repository, 9 April 2020. 

Thomas, T. (2020). A Case Study of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library Conscious Editing Steering Committee.