Final Collection
Finished Collection in the Archives

Over the summer and throughout the school year, I worked on integrating accessions collected in 2019 into the existing Amherst College Afro-American Society/Black Student Union Collection. Before this process, the collection consisted of two slim boxes and some audio-visual material, and now it has more than quadrupled in size!

This was my first experience working in the archives and in a library in general, so there was a bit of a learning curve before I could fully begin integrating the material. I had to learn what it meant to really “process” a collection, and what I thought was simply refiling documents turned out to be a very meticulous, exciting (and at times tedious) undertaking.

Historically, archives have been a place of violence for marginalized communities, specifically for people of color. The silencing of Black voices and of the Black experience through the intentional mishandling and removal of documents has been a characteristic of archival work for centuries. With that in mind, it was imperative that I stay mindful of the original order of the accession material and treat everything with care.

Decisions about organization and regroupings were discussed thoroughly with Mariah, my supervisor, Ash Smith, and Chris Barber, who have extensive experience working in the archives. We also made sure to record every step of the process in order to maintain transparency with patrons interested in using the collection in the future. 

Photo of Black Students Outside of the Octagon
Photo of Black Students Outside of the Octagon

Finishing the integration process was extremely rewarding, and I am excited to have contributed to raising awareness about the legacy of black students at Amherst College. One of the many highlights of the collection is the “Demands, Addresses, Racial History, etc. 1986-2008” folder under Series 3: Amherst College Community and Allied Groups. Looking through the multitude of documents in this file, it is amazing to see how great of a contribution these students made to the advancement of the black community at Amherst College, as well as the campus culture overall.

Some other highlights include:

Series 4: Audio, Video, and Photographs

Series 7: Black Art + Literature

Series 10: Social/Political Movements, “South Africa Apartheid (1-2), 1985-1996

Series 14: Log Books, 1986-2992

More About the Collection

The records of the Afro-American Society/Black Students’ Union document the activities of the group starting in 1968 with the founding of the Afro-American Society, through its renaming in 1980 as the Black Students’ Union, and continuing into the 2010s. The collection includes founding documents, meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, documentation of events and programs, video and audio recordings, photographs, and materials on various subjects gathered for the use of group members.

What’s in the collection?

  • This is a physical collection stored in Archives & Special Collections.
  • Audio and video material has been digitized and is available on request.
  • Browse contents in ArchivesSpace
    • Use the collection organization sidebar to expand the folders and view item listings.

How can I view items from the collection?