Digital Humanities at SAA 2014

In a week, I’ll be attending my first Society of American Archivists annual meeting – this year’s theme is “ARCHIVES * RECORDS: Ensuring Access.” In order to help sort out which sessions I want to attend, I thought I’d crib from my colleague Mark Sample’s Digital Humanities at MLA 2014, and compile a list of digital humanities-related sessions and events.

Obviously, this list will be biased as to what I consider “digitally-inflected” – for instance, I’m not including any of the pre-conference workshops, although these definitely include options that have a strong digital component, nor am I including sessions/ events that appear to be standards-based (if I did, the list would be almost entirely standards!). This list includes five of the 70 sessions, which means that 7.14% of this year’s sessions are DH-inflected; however, that does not account for day-long events (like the Research Forum or THATCamp SAA), posters, roundtables, or committee meetings, some of which I did include on this list.

Please do let me know if you think I’ve missed a session/ event, or included one that shouldn’t be on the list. As someone whose professional personal interests certainly cross the (perhaps occasionally siloed) archivist-librarian-digital humanist borders, I’m looking forward to discussing DH and plenty of other topics with the crowd at SAA’s largest meeting yet!

These descriptions are copied-and-pasted from the SAA’s online schedule.

Tuesday, August 12

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

2014 Research Forum: “Foundations and Innovations” (detailed agenda found here)

Participants’ enthusiastic response to the past seven Research Forums confirms that the full spectrum of research activities— from “pure” research to applied research to innovative practice—is of interest and value to the archives community. If you’re engaged in research…seeking to identify research-based solutions for your institution… willing to participate in the research cycle by serving as a beta site for research trials… or simply interested in what’s happening in research and innovation…then join us for the 8th Annual SAA Research Forum!

Wednesday, August 13

3:30 PM to 5:00 PM

SAA Architectural Records Roundtable

Architectural Records Roundtable provides a forum for discussing issues related to the access to and care of architectural materials. This year’s meeting is devoted to digital related issues, including an update from our CAD/BIM Task Force and an incubator session on best practices for born-digital design records (see our website for more details).

SAA Archival Educators Roundtable

In addition to our business meeting, several schools will present on their digital curation programs.

SAA Research Libraries Roundtable

RLRT promotes discussion and collaboration on initiatives and research projects that affect archivists working in a research library context. Join us for a program about Unhidden Collections as we look at the work research libraries are doing in this area. Panelists discuss such aspects as hidden born-digital collections, mass digitization, linked data, EAD aggregation/integrated discovery interfaces, and more.

SAA Web Archiving Roundtable

Anyone interested in web archiving is encouraged to attend this meeting. The program will highlight web archiving tools and include a discussion of enhancing institutional practices and national standards.

5:15 PM to 7:15 PM

SAA Women’s Collections Roundtable

Join us for a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of ensuring access to women’s collections. We will be joined by Heather Slania, Director of Library and Research at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in DC, who will discuss her position and her efforts to archive the “contemporary art web.” After the discussion we will host our annual business meeting.

Thursday, August 14

8:00 AM to 9:30 AM

Plenary Session 1 – The State of Access: A Conversation with Miriam Nisbet and David Cuillier
Join CoSA President Matt Veatch, NAGARA President Daphne DeLeon, and SAA President Danna Bell for a jam-packed session that includes a celebration of CoSA’s award recipients as well as SAA’s five new Fellows. William “Butch” Lazorchak of the Library of Congress then moderates “The State of Access: A Conversation with Miriam Nisbet and David Cuillier.” Tech-savvy 21st-century citizens expect their governments to be visibly transparent, accountable, and responsive. As a result, e-democracy, open government, and “open data” initiatives are reshaping traditional approaches to managing records, releasing information, and searching archives. Society of Professional Journalists president and Arizona State University assistant professor David Cuillier and Miriam Nisbet, director of NARA’s Office of Government Information Services, explore the new face of government “openness” and evolving opportunities for all archivists and records managers.

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Session 101 – Getting Things Done With Born Digital Collections

Recently, we have seen a proliferation of resources enumerating the minimal steps necessary to establish an appropriate archival context and ensure long-term preservation of and access to born digital assets. These contributions have demystified the problem and inspired a number of archives to start or improve existing program. This panel assembles archivists from diverse institutions who will discuss the factors and issues they considered in implementing or extending their programs for handling born digital collections.

Session 103 – Editathon: You Have One Hour to Increase Access to Archival Science Info on Wikipedia…Go!

Come sharpen your wiki-skills (or acquire brand new ones) at this interactive new session format: the Wikipedia editathon. This is a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with colleagues and Wikipedia experts in a collaborative learning environment as we expand encyclopedia articles related to archival science. Attendees will learn Wikipedia best practices and gain knowledge about how to host an editathon at their own institutions. Note: Attendees should bring their own laptop or tablet.

3:00 PM to 3:30 PM (professional poster session)

P05 Professional Poster – Mapping Duke History with Historypin

What is Historypin? How can archives use it? This poster shares the opportunities and lessons learned by Duke University Archives’ experimentation with Historypin, a digital, user-generated archive of images with contributors from around the world. Duke sought to create a series of virtual tours, mapping different campus movements and landmarks as a way of sharing university history across space and time. Come see the results and get suggestions and tips for your own institution’s channel on Historypin.

P07 Professional Poster – Collaborative Archives: Using to Encourage Undergraduate Research

Hendrix College: Food, Community, and a Sense of Place” was a project developed in collaboration with Dr. Amanda Hagood’s Literature and the Environment class, the Hendrix College Archives, and Hendrix’s Mellon Fellow in Digital Humanities and Pedagogy, Tim Lepczyk. The purpose of the project was to encourage students to engage with place through research in the Hendrix College Archives using digital storytelling as a medium. This poster will provide a snapshot about the work that was done, including methodologies and the result of the collaboration.

P19 Professional Poster – Watch Your Exhibits Perform with Augmented Reality

How often have you wished there were a better way to let delicate manuscripts and rare books perform for visitors, while staying mindful of preservation and security? Emporia State University’s Special Collections and Archives has achieved this goal by utilizing mobile, augmented reality technology to bring these items to life.

5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Graduate Student Poster Presentations

[I didn’t paste the full session description due to length, but a few of these posters’ titles sound like they may have a DH connection.]

Friday, August 15

9:15 AM to 10:15 AM

Session 304 – Reach Them and They Will Come” New Approaches for the Archival Educator

This fast-paced panel features six seasoned educators describing their most effective method for teaching with primary sources. The panelists, each of whom instructs at K-12 or college levels, discuss digital and/or hands-on methods, and point to the learning theory/core standards that undergird the effectiveness of the method.

Session 309 – For the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge: Achieving the Smithsonian Institution’s Mission Through Crowdsourced Transcription

Join Smithsonian Institution archivists and web developers in a lively series of presentations relating to their participation in, the first release of the Smithsonian’s ambitious Digital Volunteers crowdsourcing platform supporting transcription of handwritten documents in a wide range of formats and subject areas, from scientific field notebooks to diaries, letters, and writings. Design, templates, user analytics, workflow, and future uses of crowdsourcing are discussed and demonstrated.

11:45 AM to 12:45 PM

Graduate Student Poster Presentations

[Same as on Thursday from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM; I didn’t paste the full session description due to length, but a few of these posters’ titles sound like they may have a DH connection.]

2:45 PM to 3:45 PM

Session 505 – Negotiating Access: Breaking Down Intellectual Property Barriers to Digital Projects

Archivists are leading an increasing number of digital projects and programs, which hold promises of access for larger and more diverse audiences. Yet intellectual property concerns have continuously hindered open, unmediated online access to digitized materials. The speakers discuss the development of feasible and flexible means to address intellectual property issues while upholding open-access objectives. Following short presentations, attendees participate in facilitated discussions on negotiations of intellectual property and archival access.

4:00 PM to 4:30 (professional poster session part two; same as Thursday’s)

Sunday, August 17

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM


Are you interested in the latest happenings in digital humanities? Involved in a digital humanities project that you’d like to demonstrate or share? Come to THATCampSAA! “THATCamp” stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” (Read more at It’s an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting at which humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. For more information visit


Leave a Reply