Editor’s Notes on the Participant | Observer Issue of the Metropolitan Archivist

“Little Rock, 1959. Mob marching from capitol to Central High,” 1959. Photograph shows a young African American boy watching a group of people, some carrying American flags, march past to protest the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Photo: John T. Bledsoe
“Little Rock, 1959. Mob marching from capitol to Central High,” 1959. Photograph shows a young African American boy watching a group of people, some carrying American flags, march past to protest the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Photo: John T. Bledsoe

By Emily Andresini
Director of Publications, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

This issue of the Metropolitan Archivist has been long in the making. Initiated in March of 2021, we’ve been chipping away at it in fits and starts ever since. The concept of the Participant | Observer theme came from former ART President Amye McCarther, who was the driving force behind the redesign of the Metropolitan Archivist from a rolling blog to a quarterly publication. Following in Amye’s footsteps has been no easy feat, so here we present the long-awaited “Winter 2021” issue, which we’ll just call the Participant | Observer issue.

In addition to expressing my admiration for Amye’s ingenuity and tenacity, I would like to thank Nicholas Martin, Stephanie Neel and Colleen Daw for their continued efforts on this issue along the way. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to each contributor to this issue for their patience with our editorial process and for their dedication to their work and to the archival discipline.

In our initial call for submissions, we asked for examples from archival collections that convey the experience of being an observer of historical events and instances where an individual or a group was propelled to actively engage with the world by responding to the events of their time. We have all witnessed a great deal of history unfold before our eyes in recent months. How we respond, if we are called to action, marks a shift in our relationship to the world we live in. The pieces in this issue reveal instances of such shifts throughout history that altered the landscape for the future. We also look at the function in society of the witness, whose act of engagement may be sharing their personal account. Each perspective is of unique value and we hope these stories inspire our readers to find new awareness around the roles each of us choose and how that contributes to a larger shaping of our world.

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Metropolitan Archivist

Metropolitan Archivist

A publication of The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART).