Heroes and Villains

I very recently returned from attending the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting in New Orleans feeling very happy about seeing colleagues, contributing to the profession, learning about some great new projects and wanting to talk about all of this. I now feel sick watching the gut-wrenching news coverage of the disaster that has taken New Orleans. And I know that some of my colleagues who planned to stay on after the meeting and tour the area are still stuck there trying to get home.

There are so many heroes in my profession and I am normally so proud to be an archivist. I have met colleagues all over the world who have lived through wars, revolutions, natural disasters of all sorts and who have done some extraordinary things. Archivists in Moscow during the fall of the Soviet Union were truly heroes, locking down the archives and protecting records from destruction, often risking their lives in doing so. Archivists in South Africa also, risking life or imprisonment for keeping safe records that were banned by the government. I am sure that there are archivists in New Orleans right now who have risked their lives to protect the documentation of that very special place. There are countless stories being kept on the Heritage Preservation site about these brave people.

Yet watching the news and seeing the violence and destruction erupting in the streets of New Orleans makes me very unproud to be part of the human race.

One Comment on “Heroes and Villains”

  1. For those interested, AAM is maintaining a website with news from cultural organization within the disaster area – check out http://www.aam-us.org/aamlatest/news/HurricaneFirstReports.cfm. And since Anne was talking about the risks people will take to protect their collections, here’s a snippet from the AAM website about the New Orleans Museum of Art: “Six NOMA security & maintenance employees had remained on duty during the hurricane. FEMA wanted them to move to a safer location, but there was no way to secure the artwork inside so the staff continues to stay on site.”

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