The Lessons of Reflection

Figure 1
Figure 1. Celebrating the ICRC Archives Featured Image
Brenda Williams

When I decided to become involved in the IDNA Project, I did so from a research perspective.  As a researcher, I have had the opportunity to explore many archival institutions, but I had absolutely no background in archival science.  I must admit being afforded the opportunity to be a part of the IDNA Project spiked my interest in archival science.  As a student pursuing my MLIS degree at San Jose State University, I decided to enroll in a few MARA classes in my last year of study.

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Figure 2. International Council on Archives logo

This fall I am enrolled in the Archives and Manuscripts and Preservation courses.  As I started learning about provenance, original order, appraisal, arrangement, description, analog and digital preservation, and the archival community, all I could think about were the archival institutions I researched and the data I compiled for the project.  Upon reflection, the little details started to take on a new meaning for me.  I began to consider how archivists look at records in groups and how the records are related and collected based upon the activities of the organizations/persons that created them.  I pondered the importance of the creator of the records and how important an archives mission or vision statement is to the appraisal process for potential acquisitions.  I was no longer thinking of the information I had collected as just facts about the archives.  I started considering the cultural heritage community and the role that archival theory plays in archival institutions and how this theology is shared internationally across this community.I am reminded of the National Archives of Romania, whose mission places great emphasis on the preparation, selection, and preservation of records containing documentary evidence of national identity, proper functioning of government and cultural memory.  With this mission in mind, it only makes sense their holdings consist of records from government entities, private collections, and public and private institutions.  I can also see the value in why the archives serve as the authority on which governmental and organizational records hold historical value.  In Romania, no organization or government department can dispose of records without the national archives evaluating the material to determine historical value (National Archives of Romania website, 2017).

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Figure 3.  British Library Endangered Archives logo

I think of the value of collaboration within the archival community when I reflect on the archives in Madagascar.   The Madagascar Archives contains collections documenting the history of the Malagasy people as well as the history of the nation.    The collection of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony has been digitalized through the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, which is supported by the Endangered Archives Programme. It contains royal archives from 1864 to 1895 and marks the beginning of archival history for Madagascar.  It is amazing these records have survived, and they can be digitalized and shared thanks to the preserving spirit of the Madagascar Archives and their initiative to reach out and collaborate with wonderful programs like UNESCO dedicated to safeguard heritage collections that are at risk (British Library Endangered Archives Programme website, n.d.).

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Figure 4.  Roll of microfilm

Lastly, the Archives of Serbia comes to my mind as I learn about digital archival practices and preservation techniques.  One of the functions of the archives is to develop and improve archival practices across the republic.  The Archives of Serbia sticks out in my mind because it has an interesting organizational structure.  One of the departments within the archives is called the Department of Technical Protections.  This department is dedicated to conservation and preservation of analog and digital materials.  In its efforts to preserve materials the archives have developed its own microfilm collection.  Preservation is so important, and I really liked the emphasis the Archives of Serbia placed on this important practice (Archives of Serbia website, 2017).

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Figure 5. Thank you IDNA Project.

Reflecting on my experience with the IDNA project, I no longer just see the institution, repository, or the collections when I consider archives.  My eyes are now open to the science behind what archivists do, and it is through the dedication of the individuals working together within an archive and the formation of external partnerships outside of the archives that makes the cultural heritage of these international institutions what they are.  A big thank you to the IDNA Project for taking me under your wing and for providing me the opportunity to grow as a person and to gain knowledge and develop a new perspective on archives.


Advantage website (2017).  Advantage preservation: Libraries and historical societies [Figure 4. Roll of microfilm image].  Retrieved from:

Archives of Serbia website (2017).  Internal Organization.  Retrieved from:

British Library Endangered Archives Programme (n.d.).  Safeguarding the political history of pre-colonial Madagascar: The archives of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (1864-1895).  Retrieved from:

Idealist Careers website (2014).  5 “thank you” letters you could send to people in your network that matter, [Figure 5.  Thank you IDNA Project image].  Retrieved from:

International Committee of the Red Cross website (2014).  Celebrating the ICRC Archives, [Figure 1. Celebrating the ICRC Archives featured image] Retrieved from:

National Archives of Romania website (2017).  About the Archives, NAR History.  Retrieved from:

RICHES Project website (2014).  Annual Council of the International Council on Archives, Girona 2014,  [Figure 2. ICA logo image].  Retrieved from:

Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science website (2017).  Slave Societies Digital Archive, [Figure 3. British Library Endangered Archives logo image].  Retrieved from:






IDNA in the Society of California Archivists

alyse-dunavant-jonesAlyse Dunavant-Jones, a researcher with the IDNA project authored an article published in the Society of California Archivists Fall 2017 issue.  The article is based on a presentation given on June 9th 2017 by members of the research team on lessons learned during their time contributing to the IDNA publication.

Here is the link to the newsletter to see the full article

Congrats Alyse!