October is American Archives Month. When we think of archives, do we consider what people are represented, what people are underrepresented, or how people are represented?
For example the University of Maine has digitized early back issues of Le F.A.R.O.G. Forum, a Franco-American newspaper. A December 1976 cartoon shows a grandmother frog–The frog is the cartoonist’s symbol.–doing tricks with a yo-yo. The caption underneath translates as “A yo-yo doesn’t depend on age.” The grandmother’s words translate as “Young people think we are finished–too tired to even lift a finger” (Archambault, p. 2).
Students in the human services or related fields can put this cartoon in the context of its time period. The cartoonist plays with stereotypes of aging. In 1970 Maggie Kuhn had founded the Gray Panthers to advocate for elders (Maggie Kuhn, 2001).
The ACRL Framework mentions the scholarly conversation and voices absent from it (Association of College & Research Libraries, pp. 20-21). Wagner (2017) notes the difference between the community’s voice and the institutional voice in a shared archive. Still, primary sources can call attention to unheard voices–such as those of Franco-Americans or of elders.
Archambault, P. (1976, December). Grand-mère [Cartoon]. Le F.A.R.O.G. Forum, p. 2. Retrieved from https://umaine.edu/francoamerican/centre/le-forum/
Association of College & Research Libraries. (2016). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Chicago, IL: Author.
Maggie Kuhn 1905-1995. (2001). In J.S. Baughman, V. Bondi, R. Layman, T. McConnell, & V. Tompkins (Eds.), American Decades (Vol. 9). Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from gale.com.
Wagner, K. (2017). The personal versus the institutional voice in an open photographic archive. Archival Science, 17(3), 247-266. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/journal/10502
Image credit: Society of American Archivists