News

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  • 24 Apr 2017 9:31 AM | Erin Matson (Administrator)

    Many of Chicago’s cultural institutions have used grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to preserve, promote, and provide access to their collections. In response to the proposed elimination of funding for these federal agencies, CAA asked members to submit stories highlighting the projects that their institutions have undertaken with support from the NEH, NEA, and IMLS. We hope these stories will inspire a dialog among Chicagoans about how we can advocate for and better protect our cultural heritage.


    Today’s story comes to us from the Chicago History Museum, who received IMLS funding in 2016 to digitize and upgrade the storage of its historically significant yet rapidly deteriorating cellulose nitrate negatives. Expected to conclude in 2018, the project’s goals are to implement urgently needed steps to arrest the degradation of the Museum’s nitrate holdings while also improving CHM’s overall physical, intellectual, and administrative control over these materials.


    Containing over 35,000 negatives in more than 70 individual collections, CHM’s nitrate holdings document Chicago and its neighboring communities, as well as select people, places, and moments in American history, from the 1890s through the 1950s. These materials help us connect with the history of Chicago’s steel and railroad industries, social service agencies, and built environment; the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and 1933-34 A Century of Progress International Exposition; Chicago neighborhoods including Pilsen, Lincoln Park, the Loop, and the Near West Side including Maxwell Street; the 1919 Chicago Race Riot and Republic Steel Strike of 1937; and a broad range of other newsworthy topics, people, and events represented in the Chicago Daily News photographic archive. The vast majority of these materials do not exist in any other format.


    The project is the third and final phase of a multiyear effort to identify and address the challenges posed by CHM’s nitrate holdings. Project activities have included digitizing the negatives to reduce the potential of damage due to handling; making the digital surrogates available for use; enhancing information in electronic records to improve access; and upgrading the storage environment to achieve preservation conditions. IMLS funds have been used to purchase the equipment necessary for rapid capture digitization and the freezer storage required to house the original negatives and arrest film base deterioration.


    Through the support of the IMLS grant, the project will ultimately result in:


    • Nearly 28,000 new digital files with embedded administrative and descriptive metadata

    • Approximately 376 enhanced catalog records will be available in ARCHIE, CHM's online public access catalog, and the corresponding digital images will be accessible in CHM's Collections Online portal.

    • Over 35,000 nitrate negatives packaged and transferred into long-term preservation storage in safe laboratory-grade freezers.






    Image Credits (Left to right, top to bottom): 1) Conservation Lab, Chicago History Museum. © Chicago Historical Society; 2) The World's Columbian Exposition dedication, 1892. Copyright Notice: No known copyright restrictions; 3) National Sewing Machine Company, circa 1923-1936. Copyright Notice: No known copyright restrictions; 4) Near North Side general views, Chicago, Illinois, 1932. © Chicago Historical Society; 5) Nitrate Storage, Chicago History Museum. © Chicago Historical Society; 6) Construction, Wrigley Building, Chicago, Illinois, 1888-1950. © Chicago Historical Society.


    Do you have a story about your federally funded project and its significance to your community? Submit your stories to info@chicagoarchivists.org.

  • 11 Apr 2017 3:22 PM | Amber Dushman (Administrator)

    Thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday, March 30! CAA met at the Green Room at Symphony Center.  We had a great turnout; 61 members joined us despite the rain. The Steering Committee will distribute the official minutes soon, but in the meantime here are the meeting highlights:

    • The Steering Committee shared our 2016 annual report.
    • The Events, Outreach, and Professional Development subcommittees shared all of the great projects they worked on this year, and announced exciting new projects for 2017. It’s not too late to get involved! Email our subcommittee chairs for more information.
    • Gretchen Neidhardt shared the 2016 Chicago Open Archives report; Steering is still looking for a leader to take COA into the future; if you’re interested email info@chicagoarchivists.org.
    • This year we introduced the Members of the Year award! Congratulations Amy and Sarah!
    • Ashley Gosselar, Susan Hanf and Morgen MacIntosh-Hodgetts introduced CAA’s Day of Service. Registration is now open!
    • MAC 2018 will be held in Chicago! Look for future posts at mac2018.wordpress.com!
    • We heard from the nominees for Steering Committee, 2017-19. We had a strong ballot! Thank you to all who ran and thank you to the CAA members who voted in this year’s election. Elected to serve are:

    Amy Belotti

    Andrew Bullen

    Kara Jefts

    Megan Keller Young

    2017 will mark 35 years for CAA! So let’s make it a great year! Thanks again to all of our volunteers and members.


    MAC 2018 Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chairs, Andrea Bainbridge and Andy Steadhman address gathered CAA members [Photo courtesy of Amy Belotti]

  • 10 Apr 2017 11:08 AM | Laura Alagna (Administrator)

    CAA thanks all who attended the CAA@MAC meetup on April 7 in Omaha. 24 people - both CAA members and friends of CAA - joined colleagues after the MAC members' meeting to catch up over beverages and French fries. A few former CAA members who relocated elsewhere in the Midwest made appearances, and everyone enjoyed showing #OMAMAC how to have a good time!


  • 03 Apr 2017 10:31 AM | Erin Matson (Administrator)

    Congratulations to the Chicago Area Archivists 2017 Member of the Year Award winners Amy Belotti and Sarah Yarrito! 

    Sarah and Amy served as Co-Chairs to the 2016 Chicago Open Archives event. COA would not have been all that it was without their dedication and commitment. Both were very new members of CAA but answered the call for leadership for COA quickly and without hesitation. They worked tirelessly to keep the group and the event on schedule and ensured its success.

    The winners were announced at last Thursday's members meeting and each received a certificate and a CAA Member of the Year tote bag. This was the first year this award was presented and we look forward to continuing to recognize the important work of our members in the years to come. Look out for the 2018 nomination announcement later in the year, and check out the Awards page for nomination guidelines for both the Member of the Year Award and the Janet Olson Award. 

    Congrats and thank you, Amy and Sarah!


  • 22 Mar 2017 1:03 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    We have a great slate of candidates for the 2017-2019 Steering Committee positions! See the candidates below.

    Leo L. Belleville

    Amy Belotti

    Andrew Bullen

    Kara Jefts

    Matthew Messbarger

    Emily Minehart

    Sutton Skowron

    Justine Tobiasz

    Megan Keller Young


    Only members in good standing may vote; if you are a member and need another copy of the candidates' Statements of Interests please email info@chicagoarchivists.org. All of the candidates will be introduced at the annual members meeting on Thursday, March 30th. Please RSVP before Thursday, March 23rd if you plan on attending.

    Can't make it to the meeting? You can still vote! Voting for 2017-19 Steering Committee will be held online following the meeting. Watch your email inbox for more information. 

  • 08 Mar 2017 3:26 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    In an ongoing series during CAA Steering Committee election time, we hear from Steering Committee member Rob DeLand, current Treasurer.


    I joined CAA in 2007 while I was an LIS student, and received much-needed help from Janet Olson and other CAA members during that critical period.  The contacts I made thanks to these people helped me get the internship I wanted, and ultimately led me to my full-time position as a librarian & archivist.  I served on the CAA Steering Committee from 2011 to 2017 because I wanted to give back to the organization that made this possible for me.  I enjoyed working with experienced colleagues when I started, and have enjoyed getting to know newer Steering Committee members in a way that would not have been possible without volunteering.


    The Chicago area has many great people and interesting archival collections, and for me CAA has been essential for the ongoing pleasure of meeting fellow archivists and becoming familiar with their holdings, challenges, skills, and camaraderie.  I also like the intimacy of working in a smaller organization like CAA, as opposed to something at the national level; but the experiences gained in CAA can also help you be a more valuable contributor for future roles in other archival organizations if that’s what interests you.


    Please consider volunteering for a term serving on the CAA Steering Committee.  We tend to meet every month or two in a downtown Chicago location, usually with one or more members calling in for the meeting – so you don’t have to trek into the city if that’s a problem for you (the name Chicago AREA Archivists was intentional!).


    CAA is a solid organization with many very caring and dedicated members, and it is for all these reasons that CAA has been and will always be very important to me.  

    The deadline for volunteering for the Steering Committee is Thursday, March 16. Feel free to contact Rob or other Steering Committee Members with questions.


  • 02 Mar 2017 11:26 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    In an ongoing series during CAA Steering Committee Election time, we hear from Amber Dushman, current Chair.


    I was just about a year into my first archives job, and finishing my MLIS, when a serious case of imposter syndrome hit me. Compounded with being a lone arranger I was in need of colleagues who I could not only share ideas with, but I needed a team I could learn from and work with. Thanks to the encouragement from a “retiring” Steering Committee member, I threw my hat into the running.


    CAA has afforded me invaluable leadership opportunities and learning experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Those opportunities have introduced me to the work of many archival professionals and shown me their contributions to CAA: how they steady the course of the organization, but also how they infuse it with fresh programming by taking risks. These two things can be done by welcoming those new to the profession into CAA leadership.


    So, if you’re a new archivist, let me be your “retiring” Steering Committee member, and say "please consider running."


    The deadline for volunteering for the Steering Committee is Thursday, March 16. Feel free to contact Amber or other Steering Committee Members with questions.



    Photograph Courtesy of American Medical Association Archives


  • 28 Feb 2017 1:00 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    In an ongoing series during CAA Steering Committee Election time, we hear from Drew Davis, the current CAA Secretary.

    It is vital that an archivist at any stage of their career participate in regional or national archives organizations, but attaining leadership roles in those organizations can sometimes be difficult. Due to that, many archivists – and especially young archivists - can feel that their voice is “lost in the crowd.” I personally felt that setback with larger archival organizations, as I enjoy contributing to the professional development of archivists. It was during this time that I joined the Chicago Area Archivists, and was pleasantly surprised to find many volunteer and leadership opportunities available immediately. As my interest was in advancing the careers of young archivists, I joined the Professional Development subcommittee in 2012. Working on this subcommittee allowed me to help plan programs and workshops geared towards increasing the professional knowledge of CAA members. In 2014, I joined the Steering committee, providing me the opportunity to help lead CAA. Finally, in 2015 I became CAA Secretary, putting me in charge of managing CAA minutes and records.


    What I find most notable about my CAA experience is that it was possible for myself and several other Steering members to go from new members to CAA officers within three to four years of joining. I also find it impressive that so many young archivists are able to take on and thrive in leadership roles in the subcommittees and on the Steering committee. If you are an archivist at any point in your career that wants to make a difference in your profession, I highly urge you to run for Steering. There are several seats open this year, and your views and experiences would be vital in helping grow CAA.   

    The deadline for volunteering for the Steering Committee is Thursday, March 16. Feel free to contact Drew or other Steering Committee Members with questions.

    Photograph Courtesy of American Medical Association Archives


  • 24 Feb 2017 3:38 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    In an ongoing series during CAA Steering Committee Election time, we hear from longtime Steering Committee member Andy Steadham.

    When I joined the Steering Committee in 2011, Chicago Area Archivists was re-emerging from a lull in CAA activity. The year before, most Steering members had been involved with planning, hosting, and otherwise supporting the Midwest Archives Conference annual meeting – which didn't leave much time for planning CAA programs. This new Steering was committed to resuscitating CAA by bringing in additional help in the form of subcommittees to organize social events, program professional development opportunities, and develop news ways to reach out to members, potential members, and the general public.

    Today, as we look forward to bringing the Midwest Archives Conference back to Chicago in 2018, CAA remains as active as ever. There will be no lull this time.

    That's what serving on the Steering Committee is about: ensuring the sustainability of an organization by creating systems to keep it moving forward. In my three terms on Steering, the committee has worked on lots of projects like this, including:

    • establishing online member voting
    • publishing a manual for subcommittees
    • creating written procedures outlining the responsibilities of Steering Officers (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer)
    • migrating the CAA website to a more robust system for tracking membership and receiving online payments
    • creating a Communication Manager role overseeing both internal and external communications channels
    • establishing a records management policy and stewarding the Chicago Area Archivists Records (because if we can't organize our archives, who can?)

    All of that sounds like a lot of work, but keep in mind this happened over six years! Steering terms are only two years, so you can decide for yourself how much time to commit.

    Working with my peers on Steering has been a great opportunity for me to learn about what keeps an organization like this going. It's also been a great way to meet and work alongside other fantastic Chicago archives professionals.

    Maybe it's time for you to step up and think about how you can keep this organization you value sustainable. I hope you'll consider volunteering to serve on the CAA Steering Committee.

    The deadline for volunteering for the Steering Committee is Thursday, March 16. Feel free to contact Andy or other Steering Committee Members with questions.

    (Photograph Courtesy of American Medical Association Archives)

  • 22 Feb 2017 11:54 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt (Administrator)

    In an ongoing series during CAA Steering Committee Election time, we hear from Steering Committee member George Kutsunis, current RAAC liaison.


    One of the advantages of serving on the Steering Committee is getting the opportunity to represent Chicago and the CAA in the profession. As the liaison to Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) I have the opportunity to speak and advocate for the needs and interests of Chicago archivists directly in a group that has significantly more reach than the CAA.


    Working with representatives from other organizations is a unique opportunity to collaborate with archivists from around the country, as well as see the common challenges these regional organizations have, and take the best solutions back to CAA. RAAC exists to support local archival organizations like CAA and also seeks to leverage our combined experiences into advocacy education.


    Working on the Steering Committee has changed the way I think about our profession, and representing CAA at RAAC changes the way you think about professional cooperation.


    If you want to advocate for archivists, for professional standards, and for better professional development, though, you don't have to look towards the national level. Start right here with CAA and the Steering Committee.



    Photograph Courtesy of American Medical Association Archives


    The deadline for volunteering for the Steering Committee is Thursday, March 16. Feel free to contact George or other Steering Committee Members with questions.


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