In 2017, at the Radical Collections Conference in London, Kirsty Fife and Hannah Henthorn announced a research project entitled “Marginalised in the UK Archive Sector”,
aimed at chronicling the experiences of marginalised archive workers and students.
They then circulated an anonymous survey mailing lists, on social media and to universities that offered an Archives course. This survey aimed to capture the experiences felt by people of colour, disabled people, people defining as LGBTQ+, working class people, and women.
Fife and Henthorn were part of a panel at the Archives and Records Association Conference in 2017, and presented a halfway update on the research to the ARA Conference in 2018.
They have just announced that the results of our research have been published in the Journal of Information, Diversity and Inclusion, in a special issue on Diversity, Recordkeeping and Archivy. It makes for grim reading, as the experiences reported by survey respondents are quite shocking, but it is an important bit of research.
‘Brick Walls and Tick Boxes: Experiences of Marginalised Workers in the U.K. Archive Workforce’, by Kirsty Fife and Hannah Henthorn, Journal of Information, Diversity and Inclusion, vol. 5, no.1 (2021)
Another article within this special issue that they point out and invite people to read alongside theirs is ‘Against Whitewashing: The Recent History of Anti-Racist Action in the British Archives Sector’, written by Alicia Chilcott, Kirsty Fife, James Lowry, Jenny Moran, Arike Oke, Anna Sexton and Jass Thethi.
It demonstrates the problem of white supremacy in the UK archives sector, while providing an overview of the work of organisations such as the Black Cultural Archives (BCA), The National Archives (TNA), and the Archives and Records Association (ARA). It also looks at the events of the ARA Conference of 2019, which are described as “a flashpoint for resistance to white supremacy in the profession”.
‘Against Whitewashing: The Recent History of Anti-Racist Action in the British Archives Sector’,
Journal of Information, Diversity and Inclusion, vol. 5, no.1 (2021)