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Yale Library

Reparative Archival Description Working Group: Home

Introduction

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 Reparative archival description aims to remediate or contextualize potentially outdated or harmful language used in archival description and to create archival description that is accurate, inclusive, and community-centered.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long term goals include developing guidelines for repositories about finding, remediating, and documenting instances of outdated or harmful language in archival description; improving access to Yale’s archival collections, by removing or contextualizing outdated or harmful language in archival description and access points; making archival description more transparent to researchers by documenting changes to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and aim of the task force’s work; and exploring avenues for researchers to report archival description that contains outdated or harmful language.

History

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.

Feedback

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:

  • Staff availability and expertise
  • Scope and amount of material
  • Complexity of the proposed review and potential revisions
  • Existing resources on preferred terminology by community groups
  • Anticipated research interest and use

To propose a potential RAD project or provide feedback, please complete this form

RAD members

Current working group members

Bredbenner, Stephanie, Beinecke, 2019-present

Clemens, Alison, Manuscripts and Archives, 2019-present

Coggins, Jennifer, Manuscripts and Archives, 2021-present

Guérin, Sandrine, Beinecke, 2021-present

Lehman, Monika, Beinecke, 2021-present

Peralta, Michelle, Manuscripts and Archives, 2021-present

Repp, Kevin, Beinecke, 2021-present

Tai, Jessica, Beinecke; Chair, 2019-present

Zorrilla Tessler, Camila, Manuscripts and Archives, 2021-present

Past members

Hwang, Yoonha, Yale Center for British Art, 2021

Peebles, Catherine, Yale Center for British Art, 2019-2021

Spicher, Karen, Beinecke, 2019-2021

Thompson, Timothy, Technical Services, 2019-2021

Wang, Hilary, Arts Library and Yale Center for British Art, 2021-2022