Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) recommends that libraries and archival institutions in the Houston area cease public operations in adherence with national and local guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19 and in solidarity with national, regional, and local professional organizations and ensure fair compensation for staff during the ongoing situation.
We commend the libraries and archival institutions that have closed in order to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19, follow social distancing guidelines intended to “flatten the curve,” and, we hope, save lives.
Nationally, the United States Government and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend social distancing measures and working from home whenever possible. Locally, the City of Houston also recommends working from home whenever possible, avoiding gatherings of over 10 people, and avoiding discretionary travel. The Society of American Archivists also urges leaders and administrators to act swiftly to close archival institutions and support employees in work from home plans stating, “the valued labor of archivists is not more important than the health of the people doing that work.”
AHA! recommends the SAA Accessibility & Disability section’s “Archivists at Home” document to assist in devising work from home plans and tasks for archivists and staff. If you are concerned about the effect of COVID-19 on your workplace status, income, or access to sick time and family leave time, please consider filling out the Contingent Archival Workers and COVID-19 anonymous survey. SAA has also created a resource page to help the archives community navigate this global health crisis.
On March 12th, 2020, the members of AHA! held their first general meeting of the year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. MFAH archivists Marie Wise and Stratton Meyer graciously hosted the event, and offered a tour of the MFAH archives’ new space in the institution’s administration building at 5100 Montrose Boulevard.
Under the care of Wise and Meyer, the MFAH archives have reopened for research following a three year closure. The collections include institutional records and manuscript collections from affiliated and local artists, documenting over one hundred years of institutional and local history. Traffic in the reading room has been consistent since reopening, as researchers from inside and outside the MFAH dig into the archives’ rich historical and cultural resources.
Wise and Meyer worked creatively to configure shelving in the new space, making the most of the former studio spaces now available for archival storage. Using a color coordination system, the archivists deftly managed the move of collection material from two offsite storage locations outside the 610 loop to the museum’s main campus.
Thanks again to the MFAH, Marie, and Stratton for hosting! Visit the MFAH Archives website for more information about hours, available resources, and collections.
Our first meeting of the year will be Thursday, April 11 at 6:00 PM at the Woodson Research Center, located in Fondren Library on the campus of Rice University. Dr. Joshua Furman will speak to us about the Houston Jewish History Archive.
Founded in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Jewish History Archive is dedicated to the study and preservation of Jewish life in South Texas. By collecting artifacts from all facets of Jewish life, the HJHA sheds light on how Jews in and around Houston have balanced maintaining their traditions and heritage with adapting to life in Texas and the United States.
Prior to Dr. Furman’s discussion, we will have a short business meeting including an update on the upcoming Houston Archives Bazaar. If you are interested in volunteering, please email Lilly Carrel at email@example.com.
The AHA! nomination committee is accepting nominations (including self-nominations) for AHA! officers, including the positions of Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-President (President-elect). This is a fantastic opportunity to help shape the future of AHA! and further its goal to develop and increase collaboration and communication across the Houston area. Furthermore, serving as an officer provides members with a valuable leadership experience.
All members of AHA! are eligible to run for an officer position, terms are one year. The election will take place at the December meeting (date forthcoming). Please submit all nominations to Emily Vinson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elected officers of the organization shall be the President, Vice-President (President-elect), Secretary, and Treasurer.
Each officer serves a one-year term of office starting after the elections at the December meeting.
Should an officer other than the President be unable to complete their one-year term, a special election will be held at the next meeting to replace the officer for the duration of the term. Should the President have to leave office, the Vice-President will act as president until the end of the President’s term of office and the following year.
President coordinates the organization’s meetings; presides at all meetings and seeks members to serve on committees.
Vice-President assumes the presidential duties in the absence of the President; maintains the membership rolls; and notifies all members of the meetings. The VicePresident coordinates Archives Month activities. The Vice-President also serves as co-signer for bank accounts and other assets of the association.
Secretary takes minutes of all meetings of the organization and maintains a copy of the current by-laws.
Treasureris custodian of all funds; receives all membership dues; and reports to the organization at meetings on the financial standing of the organization.
The President is authorized to establish special committees to work on projects.
Webmaster and Hospitality are recurring committee positions. Committee members may be confirmed by the President.
Committees shall report to the membership on their progress at each meeting.
Article V: Elections
Elections for Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-President will be held every year at the December meeting.
A nomination committee consisting of the acting President and at least two members of the organization will nominate members for office. Only members in good standing are eligible for nomination.
Nominations can be made and seconded from the floor prior to the election of each officer.
No person shall be elected to any office or named to any position of responsibility who is not present at the said election and who has not freely offered his or her name for the purpose.
Voting shall be by secret ballot when there is more than one candidate for a particular office.
Happy Archives Month! Here’s the plan for AHA! events. And if your repository is hosting Archives Month events, please let us know, and we will help get the word out!
Saturday, October 7:
AHA! members will be headed to Olivewood Cemetery to join in their volunteer clean-up day, 8-11 a.m. They ask that we print out, sign, and bring their volunteer form, and bring lawn tools if possible. For anyone who can’t make it on the 7th, there is another volunteer day on Saturday, October 21. For more information, and to fill out the volunteer waiver, please see the Descendants of Olivewood website: http://www. descendantsofolivewood.org/
Friday, October 13:
History Bus Tour with Mr. McKinney, 6-8pm. BYO food and beverage. Meet at the Buffalo Bayou Cistern, 105 Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007. Mr. McKinney asks that passengers passengers follow his Facebook page: @MisterMcKinneysHistoricHouston.
We’re so happy to report that you can now pay your AHA! membership dues with any major credit card! We have setup an account with Squareup.com to handle credit card transactions. To cover the transaction fee, a convenience charge of $1 will be added to the regular $10 membership. As always you can still pay dues by cash and check. See the AHA Credit Card Flyer for more details.
Thanks to all who joined us recently for the inaugural monthly AHA! Happy Hour—it was a great evening of discussion and socializing. We had a productive executive meeting and brainstormed ideas for an exciting upcoming year.
One thing that came out of this gathering was a thoughtful review of AHA’s mission statement. Reflecting on the organization’s stated mission energized board members and others present. It also provided guidance as we seek to align AHA’s activities with this mission.
AHA! exists to increase contact and communication between archivists and those working with records, to provide opportunities for professional development, and to promote archival repositories and activities in the greater Houston, Texas area.
As we craft programming and communications for the year, we’ll seek to ensure that all three of these pieces are actively cultivated. Improved communication, increased fellowship, and opportunities for training and knowledge-sharing all seem like areas ripe for connecting and developing our membership. The big-ticket item—the Houston Archives Bazaar—naturally fits the focus of promoting our work within and beyond Houston. By deliberately aligning our activities with the stated mission, it is our hope that we can better serve and connect Houston’s archival community—that’s you!—as well as the communities we serve.
As we look ahead to the year, we’d like to begin by getting your input on what you’d like to see from AHA! Please take a moment to fill out this member survey.
We hope that you’re as excited as we are about the upcoming year!
AHA! Executive Board
Emily Vinson, President
Matt Richardson, Vice-President
Lisa Cruces, Secretary
Sandra Yates, Treasurer