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14th Annual Conference


 April 7, 2020 , 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Hogan Center  College of the Holy Cross • Worcester, MA

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Breakout Sessions

History of Chinese Students at Phillips Academy

Hijoo Son & Paige Roberts, Phillips Academy

Our presentation is twofold. First, we want to share a collection of primary source materials from the Phillips Academy Archives and Special Collections that document the history of Chinese students at Phillips Academy since 1878 to the present that we are scanning, cataloging, and designing into a website for use by educators, scholars, and general audiences alike. This collection showcases a rich and important education migration history that shaped Chinese modernity, the history of Sino-American relations, and the history of Asians in America. Some one hundred Chinese students matriculated into Phillips Academy between 1878 and 1930s at the same time that the U.S. established the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Asian Exclusion Act of 1924. Ironically, then, the Phillips Academy Archives’ large cache of materials records the history of Sino-American educational exchange during an era of hostile U.S. migration policy. With these materials, we are planning to build a robust, searchable web site that provides relational data and high-quality scans of original correspondences, images, travel diaries, student records, receipts, and other material objects. Second, we will present some findings from an interdisciplinary course using computing methods to quantify and qualify this digital corpus and the cumulative student work including data visualizations, reports, and curated poster boards for presentation purposes.  Currently, we are co-teaching, alongside computer science teacher Dr. Nick Zufelt, an interdisciplinary course titled “Silences and Gaps: The History of Chinese Students at Phillips Academy” in order to explore with students why such a rich archive has largely been ignored. The “silences and gaps” of the record on Chinese students of Phillips Academy from late nineteenth to the twentieth centuries thus equally examine the process of how primary documents were produced, recorded, catalogued, and left in the annals of history.  Interpretation of sources occurs on a continuum from the creation of the source to its use by the current user/researcher that includes mediation by archivists. As part of the analysis of available resources in the archives, students identify, interrogate, and visualize their reasoning for such silences and gaps or evidence of power relationships in the documentary record that may impact the research process, historical memory, and community remembrance.  We believe that collections in cultural heritage institutions and archives reflect and reinforce social power structures. Thus, the power of the archive may be witness to inclusion but also include distortions, omissions, erasures, and silences. Silence, in this sense, is an important exercise of control and power. By sharing our workflow, design goals, pedagogical challenges, and student work, this co-presentation brings attention to a collection that illuminates in particular the understudied experiences of Chinese students in the U.S. and the diffusion of American values and educational models abroad.

Hijoo Son is an instructor of the History and Social Science and Interdisciplinary Studies Depts. She is also the Geographer-at-Large at Phillips Academy.  She received her Ph.D. from UCLA's Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures. She has published in Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (2018), the Journal of Korean Studies (2012) and had done several translations in co-edited volumes. She is currently working on a textbook manuscript titled A Concise History of Korean MigrationAt PA, Hijoo has taught a variety of courses including US, World, and Asian History, an art history course titled “Art and the State.” As a Tang Fellow last year, she taught the course “Reading with and against the Grain: A Comparison of History Textbooks from the Pacific Rim.”

Paige Roberts has been Director of Archives and Special Collections at Phillips Academy since 2012. She is responsible for all aspects of collections management including appraisal, preservation, processing, and digitization as well as reference, outreach, instruction, records management, and digital preservation. She is on twitter: @paige_roberts


Visibility for Disability Digitization Project

Kyle Boyd, UMass Amherst

Funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Visibility for Disability Digitization Project draws from 19 collections which include organizational records and the personal papers of activists.  The project will provide free digital access to over 50,000 items about the experience of disability and the growth of the modern disability rights movement. This talk will discuss the challenges in selecting material and creating descriptive metadata for the project.

Kyle Boyd is the Project Coordinator for the Visibility for Disability Digitization Project at UMass Amherst Special Collections and University Archives. Prior to this project, she managed the digitization of the MacConnell Aerial Photograph Collection, processed the Clarke School for the Deaf Records, and created descriptive metadata for the Lyman Family Papers. She’s a graduate of Simmons College School of Library and Information Science.


Beyond Orality: Digital Preservation and the African Ajami Library

Gabe Adugna, Eleni Castro & Rachel Dwyer, Boston University

This talk will provide an overview of the African Ajami Library (AAL), an open access digital repository of materials written in Ajami script (modified Arabic script) from all over Islamized Africa, which is hosted in OpenBU at Boston University.  AAL is a collaborative initiative between Boston University and the West African Research Center (WARC) in part funded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme. We will discuss use cases of collaborations from both East and West Africa, along with more general technical digitization workflows, lessons learned, and opportunities for international scholars to engage more deeply with these manuscripts.

Gabe Adugna is the Subject Liaison Librarian for African Studies at Boston University.  Prior to this position, he served as Librarian for the Community College of Baltimore County,  for the Ethiopian National Meteorological Services Agency, and for a number of international NGOs. He received a Diploma in Library Science from Addis Ababa University and a Master’s of Library Science from University of Maryland, College Park.


Eleni Castro manages the institutional repository, OpenBU, and the Electronic Theses & Dissertations Program at Boston University Libraries. She regularly works closely with faculty, researchers and staff to design and implement digitization and born digital projects for items and collections deposited in the repository. Castro was the technical lead for the Endangered Archives Programme/Arcadia funded project, Digital Preservation of Mandinka Ajami Materials of Casamance, Senegal (EAP1042). She received her Master’s of Library and Information Studies from McGill University.

Rachel Dwyer is the Assistant Head of the African Studies Library at Boston University. In addition to reference, instruction and collection development, her current focus is improved visibility of and access to African Studies special collections.  She has presented on Wikipedia in the classroom and on African language learning with Wikipedia. Dwyer received her Master’s of Library and Information Science Degree from Simmons College.

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