The Reparative Archival Description Working Group (RAD; previously the Reparative Archival Description Task Force) is charged by the Archival and Manuscript Description Committee (AMDECO) with creating recommendations regarding principles and practices for reparative archival description work. Reparative archival description aims to remediate or contextualize potentially outdated or harmful language used in archival description and to create archival description that is accurate, inclusive, and community-centered.
In its pilot project, RAD created reparative archival description recommendations and tested those recommendations by remediating Yale Library finding aids and catalog records on Japanese American incarceration during World War II.
RAD’s long term goals include developing guidelines for repositories about finding, remediating, and documenting instances of outdated or harmful language in archival description; improving access to Yale’s archival collections, by removing or contextualizing outdated or harmful language in archival description and access points; making archival description more transparent to researchers by documenting changes to description; developing public-facing documentation that details the scope and aim of the task force’s work; and exploring avenues for researchers to report archival description that contains outdated or harmful language.
The Reparative Archival Description Working Group (previously the Reparative Archival Description Task Force) was formed in November 2019 after AMDECO identified a need for legacy description remediation. RAD members identified a need to focus on the acknowledgement and repair of past harms caused by archival description. The task force was re-charged as a working group in 2021.
RAD acknowledges that the term “reparative” can be harmful to some. “Reparative therapy” is a form of conversion therapy provided to adults who voluntarily seek to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, usually out of a desire to live their lives in accordance with their religious or political beliefs. We stand with survivors of reparative therapy, and unequivocally believe that reparative therapy is a harmful, dangerous practice that can inflict lifelong damage to those who undergo it.
Our name was inspired by and took inspiration for its name from Lae'l Hughes-Watkins’ article, Moving Toward a Reparative Archive: A Roadmap for a Holistic Approach to Disrupting Homogenous Histories in Academic Repositories and Creating Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Voices. If you have concerns about RAD’s use of the word “reparative,” we invite you to contact us so that we can understand and discuss your concern. Our group’s aim is to reduce harm to users who interact with our archival collections, and we take all feedback under careful consideration. You may contact us using our Feedback Form.
RAD welcomes feedback, suggestions for potential future projects, and concerns related to harmful, outdated, or inadequate description. The committee’s purview pertains to archival description in finding aids available in Archives at Yale and catalog records in Orbis and Quicksearch pertaining to archives and manuscripts. Areas that are out of scope for our work include books, e-resources, and proposing changes to Library of Congress subject headings and other controlled vocabularies. We do not revise original printed titles. RAD discusses and evaluates all comments, requests, and suggestions we receive. When developing our plans for future projects, considerations include but are not limited to:
To propose a potential RAD project or provide feedback, please complete this form.
If you have inquiries related to RAD and its work, please contact co-chairs Monika Lehman and Jennifer Coggins.
Current working group members
Clemens, Alison, Beinecke Digital Special Collections and Access & Public Services and Operations, 2019-present
Coggins, Jennifer, Co-chair, Beinecke Community Engagement, 2021-present
Guérin, Sandrine, Beinecke Special Collections Technical Services, 2021-present
Lehman, Monika, Co-Chair, Beinecke Special Collections Technical Services, 2021-present
Peralta, Michelle, Beinecke Special Collections Technical Services, 2021-present
Zorrilla Tessler, Camila, Beinecke Special Collections Technical Services, 2021-present
Bredbenner, Stephanie, Beinecke, 2019-2022
Hwang, Yoonha, Yale Center for British Art, 2021
Peebles, Catherine, Yale Center for British Art, 2019-2021
Repp, Kevin, Beinecke, 2021-2022
Spicher, Karen, Beinecke, 2019-2021
Tai, Jessica, Chair, Beinecke; 2019-2022
Thompson, Timothy, Technical Services, 2019-2021
Wang, Hilary, Arts Library and Yale Center for British Art, 2021-2022