The March/April edition of DRAFT magazine has a lovely little story about Tiah Edmunson-Morton and the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. (Full disclosure: I wrote it.)
I’ve pointed to her Tumblr blog on several occasions, first because I thought you might be interested, and second, perhaps selfishly, because we need to encourage this sort of activity. In one sense it is easier to collect history as it is happening; in another it is harder because you don’t know necessarily know what is going to be important.
Yesterday Alan McLeod wrote, “The interesting thing about the early bits of anything is how little data there is to work with.” Indeed.
So a couple of quotes from Edmunson-Morton (in case your copy of DRAFT hasn’t arrive in the mail):
“The ultimate irony is you can digitize it all, but how to you make sense out of it?”
“You are no longer dealing with people how have died and left their nice box of stuff. You are working with a living community. The power is not just records, but people’s memories. One person fills in a blank here, another person there.”
As I wrote in the story, OHBA makes too much sense to be one of a kind. But, to repeat myself, we need to encourage this sort of activity. Edmunson-Morton is already practicing what Paul Eisloeffel of the Nebraska State Historical Society calls holistic collecting, “thinking outside of the archives box” and gathering artifacts as well as historical documents. This doesn’t necessarily come naturally.
“Dealing with artifacts has always been a problem for standalone archives,” he said. He’s a proponent of the sort of proactive collecting Edmunson-Morton has begun. “It is important for archivists to be able to look at what’s happening in a culture and start collecting now. I really applaud her.”