We are blogging as we dig into the archaeological records archived at Independence National Historical Park (INDE) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. These records were created over the past 50 years as archaeologists researched sites within the park's boundaries. The Independence Park Archives is currently creating a Guide for this vast collection of documents. This blog serves toward that end. It functions as a platform where archaeologists, archivists, and the interested public can share ideas about how to make these materials more widely available and more useful to the user.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sharing and Learning

A possible exciting opportunity has arisen. The Archivist Assistant for the National Register of Historic Places/NPS contacted us about participating in an archaeology, archives, and blogging-themed workshop being proposed for a conference next summer. The workshop, entitled After the Dig: How Federal and State Institutions Manage Archaeological Collections will bring a range of individuals together to discuss the archival challenges facing state and federally-funded institutions, the need for archival best practices, and the use of blogs as a tool to create a dialogue between archivists, archaeologists, and the public.

If accepted, the workshop will be presented at the 2010 Joint Meeting of the Council of State Archivists, National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and Society of American Archivists in Washington, DC.

My part of our contribution to the proposed workshop includes a presentation entitled, Blogging Toward an Archaeological Records Collection Guide: A Case Study on Using Web 2.0 Technology to Build a More User-Sensitive, Management-Enriched, Archival Tool. A summary statement provided to the session organizer follows below.

“Digging In the Archives” is an internet blog associated with an archival management project underway at Independence National Historical Park. This federal repository houses 50 years worth of field notes, maps, artifact logs, photographs, and reports generated during the development and continuing management of the national park. These record the development of ideas related to the preservation, presentation, and interpretation of both American history and American historical memory, and they document the evolution of urban and historical archaeology within the federal government and within the discipline of US anthropological archaeology more generally. This collection is routinely drawn upon for NPS needs (e.g., compliance measures, interpretation and education, cultural resources planning) and is accessed more widely by outside scholars and interested members of various publics (including historic preservation and material culture specialists). This blog extends access to this archived collection while the interactive nature of its Web 2.0 platform allows for a collaborative relationship between the Archives and its users. Input from diverse audiences is helping us to craft a Guide that will improve ease of the collection’s use while also assisting in the Archive’s continuing management.

Cross your fingers that the workshop is accepted for the conference. This would be an invaluable opportunity to learn new strategies from others working with archaeological records collections and we in turn could share what has been learned in processing the INDE Archeological Records collection and from this associated blog project.