Drexel University Archives' Statement on Inclusivity
Archivists have a responsibility to society to make the historic record as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
While our collections are open to anyone, we recognize that not everyone feels welcome in an archives. Some of the factors that influence whether a person approaches an archives in the first place and how welcome they feel in our digital and physical spaces are not within our control—but many of them are.
The archival record generally and the archival record of Drexel University in particular contain gaps and silences. Individuals and groups are unrepresented, underrepresented, or misrepresented. Sometimes this is due to happenstance, but often it reflects decisions and practices of archivists past and present, as well as larger patterns of exclusion and marginalization at Drexel and throughout society.
Drexel University Archives staff constantly make decisions that affect how well and how badly different groups are represented. We make decisions about what materials to collect, how much time we spend organizing or inventorying a particular collection, how collection guides are worded and how detailed they are, and which materials to digitize next. While we try to make the best decisions we can, we recognize that our actions may be flawed or lacking in ways we cannot currently predict.
Archival material may include language and ideas that are harmful or offensive, reflecting the attitudes and opinions of their creators and the social context in which they were created. Descriptions of collections may also include harmful or offensive language, since preferred terminology and archival best practices are always changing.
Please read our Statement on Harmful Content in Archival Collections to learn more about how the University Archives handles harmful content in archival material and in collection descriptions, and how we approach creating new collection descriptions and editing old descriptions.
Making the Drexel University Archives inclusive is an ongoing process that requires long-term, sincere engagement with individuals and groups from all parts of the University, past and present, as well as beyond the University.
In order to make the Drexel University Archives more inclusive:
- We seek to provide access to our collections in the broadest sense.
- We endeavor to make everyone feel welcome in the archives and provide our fullest support to researchers from any background.
- We aim to counteract gaps and silences in the archival record by making our collecting practices and the ways we describe collections more inclusive.
- We help to make the archives profession more inclusive by providing hands-on experience to students at different levels and from any background.
- We expand opportunities for Drexel students and others to engage with primary source materials and to become familiar with the principles of archival research and archival practice.
- In order to more fully and accurately represent all aspects of Drexel’s history, we seek to work with groups that are currently underrepresented or misrepresented in our current collections, including past and current students, staff, and faculty.
- We collaborate with colleagues in the Philadelphia area and beyond to make archival collections and spaces, as well as the archival profession, more inclusive.