Below is an op-ed I submitted to the Harvard Crimson, which intended to publish it but later walked back that decision. For transparency’s sake, I have published the entirety of my email exchange with their editors here. It should be noted that the newspaper, which is run by students and ostensibly independent from the university administration, refused to run a story about Tamara Lanier in 2016, citing concerns from the Peabody Museum (see page 16 of the recent lawsuit Lanier filed). The newspaper instead ran an op-ed from the then-university president Drew Faust.

At last month’s “Vision & Justice” convening

Image for post
Image for post
“Illustration of Mary Jones (1838).” Mary Jones was a black transgender sex worker imprisoned in New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison during the 1830’s. May the following essay serve as dedication to her memory and to all sex workers who continue to be criminalized to this day. Image source: Digital Transgender Archive.

On February 9, 2019, I gave the keynote address at the annual Scholar and Feminist Conference organized by the esteemed Barnard Center for Research on Women. This year’s conference theme was entitled, “The Politics and Ethics of the Archive.” I am grateful to the organizers of the conference as well as those in attendance for my address, a lightly edited version of which begins below.

Before I get into the heart of my talk, I want to offer a preface that explains why exactly I will be discussing archives and prisons in the same breath. It’s far from an obvious…

Image for post
Image for post
Protestors in Cleveland, Ohio, marching for truth and justice following the non-indictment of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown, Jr. on August 9, 2014. See more items from A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland at

Next month I will travel to New Orleans, LA, for the symposium Architecting Sustainable Futures: Exploring Funding Models in Community-Based Archives. In advance of that, symposium organizers invited me to write this short commentary for the first session, which is entitled “The Community is the Archive.” The first sentence of the session description reads:

The local communities where community-based archives are based are essential to their development and survival, and underline the social value of community-based archives.

But let’s shift the statement from a declarative to an inquisitive one: Are local communities essential to the survival of community-based archives? My…

Below is the text of a talk I delivered on October 18, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA, at the event Monument Lab Live #2: Hidden Histories and Missing Documents. A longer version of the central story that I narrate can be found in an academic article I published here. This talk was given while taking a knee, in order to hold space for the black girls and black women stolen by the state amidst the ongoing onslaught of state violence against black bodies across the globe.

Today marks two months exactly since I moved from Philadelphia to Cambridge, Massachusetts. I lived…

Below is the text of a talk I delivered on a panel that formed part of the 75th Anniversary Symposium for Harvard University’s Houghton Library. The panel’s title was “Taking Care.”

Fuck Harvard.

That might offend some of you in this room today, but I have my reasons for saying it, despite the fact that I’m speaking here this afternoon and also a current graduate student here. …

My last day as a professional archivist will come just three days before the 4-year anniversary when I interviewed for my job as Princeton’s first-ever digital archivist on July 24, 2013. I remember that interview quite vividly for two reasons.

First, Princeton sent a driver to pick me up from Philadelphia International Airport. I arrived at the area I’d been told to find my ride, only to see about 10 different cars. I didn’t know which one was mine, so I waited. I was the only passenger there. After standing in the baking hot sun for close to 20 minutes…

June 21, 2017

Dear Dave, Robin, and Lisa,

I hope this message reaches you well. My name is Jarrett and I’m part of the Advisory Group to the StoryCorps Justice Project. When Tanya, whom I admire and respect deeply, asked me to join the group last year, I said “yes” in my head before I even finished reading her email. In the year since, I have happily fielded calls with Tanya and others at StoryCorps as well as opened up my personal network of communities and organizers in and around Chicago. …

Image for post
Image for post
Image taken from here.

I am writing this post against my better judgment but I am writing it anyway because it needs writing. It also needs reading, and I hope that its intended audience reads it closely. The intended audience includes anyone, anywhere who is planning a Thing (a conference, symposium, panel, or class meeting etc.) and wants a speaker to come to your Thing and say words to the attendees of said Thing. I author this post from my experiences in the field of archives and libraries as both a planner of Things and a speaker at them.

First let me address the…

I delivered this talk on a panel at the 2017 meeting of the British Columbia Library Association, which took place on April 20, 2017, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Tara Robertson and Michael Wynne delivered talks on the panel as well. Theirs were better than mine.

Canada, I’m sorry. And, you’re welcome. I’m sorry because for the next fifteen minutes or so you’re going to endure yet another American who’s abroad but still discussing American problems, which is quite possibly the most American thing anyone could ever do. …

This is the text of my keynote address delivered at the Digital Library Federation Liberal Arts Colleges Pre-Conference hosted at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI, on November 6, 2016. Thanks are due to the following folks for their collective eyes, ears, and energy that they contributed to the ideas present in this talk: Hillel Arnold, Karina Beras, Kelsey Duinkerken, Jessica Farrell, Jasmine Jones and Krista Oldham. All faults present are my own.

Image for post
Image for post

Good morning all. Thank you for having me here today to help launch the Liberal Arts Colleges Pre-Conference of the Digital Library Federation. I will begin these…

Jarrett M. Drake

organizing for and through abolition | fighting for the caring community | son of the sands | est. :: occupied Potawatomi lands

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store