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Thursday, April 15 • 1:00pm - 1:50pm
Borderlands | Archives as a Borderland: Navigating USIA Research at NARA

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Focusing on a selection of animated shorts produced by the United States Information Agency (USIA), this session will trace the path of an unprocessed group of films, starting with their creation as a U.S. product under the guise of local production across the border in Mexico, continuing with processing, preservation, and digitization at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and ending with their potential use by researchers in the National Archives catalog. Using this example, we will investigate how the archives is a borderland serving as a site for the interplay between archivists’ resources and researcher expectations. With archival researchers increasingly expecting records to be available online or accessible in digital form, and archival institutions still working through decades of unprocessed collections, a mismatch occurs when research interest grows faster than staff are able to tackle the backlog. The films of the USIA are increasingly popular among scholars and are referenced in papers, panels, and articles. Archivists and preservation specialists at NARA have worked through processing and preservation on hundreds of titles, but many are still undescribed, and only a relatively small number have been digitized. Offering the USIA’s animated short films from Mexico as a case study, we hope to demystify and make visible the work of the National Archives and pave the way for a discussion on how to achieve the most from this valuable collection. The session will incorporate short clips from the films. Speakers will include co-chairs Heidi Holmstrom and Audrey Amidon, motion picture preservation specialists at NARA, to introduce the topic and describe the work of processing archivist Michael Taylor, who has spent the last seven years working through the backlog of USIA films. Also speaking will be motion picture preservation specialist Ivy Donnell, who preserved and digitized the Mexican cartoons, and Dr. Brian Real, an information and film studies scholar who uses USIA films in both sides of his research.

avatar for Audrey Amidon

Audrey Amidon

National Archives and Records Administration
Audrey Amidon is a specialist in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives and Records Administration, where she preserves and makes accessible the permanently valuable motion picture records of the U.S. government. She completed the film archive M.A. program at... Read More →
avatar for Heidi Holmstrom

Heidi Holmstrom

National Archives and Records Administration
Heidi Holmstrom has been a Motion Picture Preservation Specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration since 2009. She earned an M.A. in History, with a concentration in Archives and Records Management, from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. She currently... Read More →
avatar for Ivy Donnell

Ivy Donnell

Motion Picture Preservation Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration
Ivy Donnell is a Preservation Specialist in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland. She received a MLIS in Archives and Digital Curation from the University of Maryland and a BS in Electronic Media and... Read More →
avatar for Brian Real

Brian Real

Southern Connecticut State University
Brian Real, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Information and Library and Information Science at Southern Connecticut State University. He holds a PhD in Information Studies and an MLS from the University of Maryland. His research is split between analyses of the modern social impact... Read More →

Thursday April 15, 2021 1:00pm - 1:50pm PDT
Stage A