[NFBWATlk] Call for affiliate historian
mjc59 at comcast.net
Thu Dec 16 01:18:23 UTC 2021
Please contact me if you are interested in serving as our NFB of Washington historian.
In 1955, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, founding President of the National Federation of the Blind, wrote to those he called the “state historians” to send in history, data, and general information on their affiliate, in hopes of publishing an overall history of the Federation. The years have passed, tenBroek’s history of the Federation was published, and, at some point, the official capacity for the affiliate historians fell away. But now, in 2021, President Riccobono seeks to reinstitute the position of historian for each affiliate and division, in an effort to best preserve the important work and history of the Federation for the future.
In 2004 when we opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, we established our archives and historical collections in the Jacobus tenBroek Research Library on Blindness. Presently, the Jacobus tenBroek Library contains a vast archive of information and documentation on the work of the National Federation of the Blind, the many interconnecting stories of blind people who have contributed to our movement, and the developments in the public understanding of blindness and programs for the blind. However, this did not happen overnight; it is the byproduct of the grassroots efforts by Federation members over many, many decades, as each affiliate and division has sent items to the national office. It is only because of individual members that we are able to look to our past as we continue into our future. As such, we want to ensure that as we move forward as an organization, this progress is just as well documented and preserved today as it was in 1955. This is only possible with passion and initiative from members on every level. Each member should think of this collection as our national archives.
Affiliate Historians Needed
We need to identify a point person in each of our state affiliates and national divisions who can serve as a historian. While the title of “historian” can certainly come with weighty connotations, in this instance, the primary focus is not on individual research, but rather on identifying, gathering, and submitting materials. Additionally, while the historian should act as the point person for each affiliate or division, the sole responsibility should not fall upon them and instead be shared by the membership. Formal training or technical skills are not necessary, only a passion for the work that is to be done.
Crucial collection areas include, but are not limited to:
Newsletters (both official publications and monthly messages from the president)
Recordings of meetings and events
Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Communication with members about important stories and histories and documenting them
Identifying members with whom to conduct oral histories
Identifying members who have papers and items that would be beneficial to the archives
Submission of materials to the Jacobus tenBroek Library
Coordinating with other affiliate historians and our Federation archivist to build knowledge and share ideas
We are actively looking to preserve the past and present for the future. This on its own is important work; however, it becomes even more crucial as we move forward with creation and development of a fully accessible museum dedicated to the organized blind civil rights movement. That project will take our movement to a new level of awareness and will allow many more to experience the power of our shared history. In the end, Dr. tenBroek best surmised its importance when he wrote the following to his affiliate historians on March 28, 1955:
The project has exciting possibilities. If successfully carried out, it will be not only the history of the blind movement in this country, but the history of blindness in recent times in this country. It will reveal in ways, which can not be refuted, the character of the democratic impulse, which lies behind the claims of self-determination by the blind and which supports our organizations. It will be a public educational instrument, which can be drawn upon to meet all sorts of Federation needs. It will, above all, tell the story of the accomplishments which the blind themselves have wrought.
If you are interested in becoming your affiliate or division historian, please contact your president. Presidents, please contact members you think would be appropriate for the position. We are looking to have a historian for each affiliate and national division by February 1, 2022. Further information will later be circulated to the identified historians. Nichole Chrissis works at our national headquarters as our archivist, and she will be coordinating the efforts of our historians across the nation. For questions, please email her at nchrissis at nfb.org <mailto:nchrissis at nfb.org> or phone her at 410-659-9314, extension 2310.
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