I end this project and my curiosity persists, but it is more informed. I look at the bell hooks welcome to readers on that Post-it and think of the interplay of its legibility and enigma—particularly of how the ellipsis signals things unsaid but somehow present. This reflects the architecture of memory and, I think, the institutionalization of memory. In the context of an archive as a body, a system that has metabolized our long history of racism may mean that there will always be the messy, contradictory, and illegible regions. They may never become transparent and resolved, but they are nevertheless meaningful. As Cauleen Smith says in our conversation, “The murkiness is part of an African American identity…Blackness isn’t even a skin color. It’s a cultural practice. It’s a mystery. It’s a legacy.”
This project happened to traverse a most challenging year. I first want to thank Paula Marincola and the entire staff of the Center for their response and the financial and moral support of the arts community they continue to provide.
On a personal level, I am deeply grateful for the encouragement, expertise, and collegiality of Paula, Melissa Franklin, and Kelly Shindler, throughout the course of this project. In addition to the wonderful participants in the public panels and interviews, I want to acknowledge Thomas Lax for thought partnership and reading recommendations and Leslie Willis-Lowry, archivist at the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, for her inspirational introduction to this essential resource.
These are some of the books, articles, essays, and poems that led me through the project. I’ve chosen here the ones that were technical “primers,” as well as those that also opened up portals to streams of materials about the political, historic, philosophical, and creative dimensions of Black archives I hope to pursue down the road.
- Antracoli, Alexis, Annalise Berdini, Faith Charlton, Amanda Ferrara, Valencia Johnson, and Katy Rawdon. “Archive for Black Lives in Philadelphia Anti-Racist Description Resources.” Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, 2020 2019.
- Bell, Bernard W. “Passing on the Radical Legacy of Black Studies at the University of Massachusetts: The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, 1968-1971.” Journal of African American Studies 16, no. 1 (2012): 89–110. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43525476.
- Brooks, John. “The Heretical History of Robin Coste Lewis’s The Voyage of the Sable Venus.” African American Review 52, no. 3 (2019): 239–53. http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1353/afa.2019.0035.
- Archives For Black Lives. “Community Archives,” February 9, 2019. https://archivesforblacklives.wordpress.com/community-archives/.
- Day, Faithe. “Black Living Data Booklet,” January 1, 2020. https://www.academia.edu/44645713/Black_Living_Data_Booklet.
- Drake, Jarrett. “Blood at the Root.” Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies 8, no. 1 (April 16, 2021). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol8/iss1/6.
- Jimerson, Randall. “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice.” The American Archivist 70, no. 2 (September 2007): 252–81. https://doi.org/10.17723/aarc.70.2.5n20760751v643m7.
- Kabir, Ananya Jahanara, and Francesca Negro. “Solano Trindade’s Gift to Alvin Ailey: New Evidence from the Black Archives of Mid-America.” The Black Scholar 49, no. 3 (July 3, 2019): 6–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2019.1619118.
- Lorde, Audre. A Burst of Light: And Other Essays. Ixia Press edition. Mineola, New York: Ixia Press, 2017.
- Lewis, Robin Coste. Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems. First edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
- McKittrick, Katherine. “Dear Science and Other Stories,” January 8, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1215/9781478012573.
- Morris, Catherine, Rujeko Hockley, Connie H. Choi, Carmen Hermo, Stephanie Weissberg, and Brooklyn Museum, eds. We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85: A Sourcebook. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum, 2017.
- Onli, Meg, Amber Rose Johnson, University of Pennsylvania, and Institute of Contemporary Art. Colored People Time, 2020.
- Scott, David. “Introduction: On the Archaeologies of Black Memory.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 12, no. 2 (June 1, 2008): v–xvi. https://doi.org/10.1215/-12-2-v.
- ———. “On the Archaiologies of Black Memory.” Small Axe: A Carribean Journal of Criticsm, no. Number 6 (2008): vi–xvi.
- Smith, Cauleen. Human 3.0 Reading List 2015-2016. Chicago, IL: Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2016.
- Soc. of American Archivists. “Society of American Archivists: ‘The Archivists Task Force on Racism,’” September 2020. https://www.archives.gov/about/speeches/2020/archivist-task-force-racism.
- Wolf, Matt. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project. Streaming, Documentary. Zeitgeist Films, 2019.
Linda Earle is a professor of practice in fine arts management and the associate graduate director for the arts management MA at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture.
“In the context of an archive as a body, a system that has metabolized our long history of racism may mean that there will always be the messy, contradictory, and illegible regions.” —Linda Earle