Black Lives in UMW Archives

UMW Special Collections and University Archives stands behind our Black students, colleagues, and community members. Black lives matter today, yesterday, and always. 

Six Black students hold candles during the opening ritual of Black Culture Week

Opening ceremony of Black Culture Week, 1976.

We believe in the statements set forth by the Board of Visitors’ Resolution on George Floyd and Systemic Racism, committing sincerely to “rooting out any practice within our community that stems from implicit bias, systemic racism or is contrary to our Statement of Values.” 

We echo the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Council Statement on Black Lives and Archives, acknowledging that “as archivists, we are not neutral in matters of social justice and politics.”  

Black student in her dorm room with a Black Panthers poster hanging on the wall behind her.

Wanda Gail Williams poses in her dorm room, April, 1972.

As the institutional archive, our mission is to collect and preserve the history of the University of Mary Washington. 

We need to do this better. 

We have a responsibility to be actively anti-racist in our professional practices and standards. We have an obligation to tell the full story of our institution and to raise up the voices previously unheard. We have a desire to build stronger partnerships within our UMW community to earn the position of a trusted repository for all who participate in our university’s rich narrative. 

We plan to examine our descriptive practices and collecting policies to actively identify and dismantle white supremacist language and assumptions. We promise to continue working to promote the archives as a safe and open place for everyone, and to do our best to ensure the broadest possible accessibility of our collections while holding ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards. 

We encourage our students to live James Farmer’s words, carved in stone here on our campus. 

Carving of a quote by James Farmer set in a brick wall. Quote reads, "Freedom and equality are inherent rights in the United States. Therefore, I encourage young people to take on the task by standing up and speaking out on behalf of people denied those rights. We have not finished the job of making our country whole."

A James Farmer quote on the UMW campus encourages speaking out against injustice. Photo credit: Sarah Appleby.

“Freedom and equality are inherent rights in the United States. Therefore, I encourage young people to take on the task by standing up and speaking out on behalf of people denied those rights. We have not finished the job of making our country whole.”

We want to continue to take the time to learn, listen, and have important conversations. We are here to support our community.

If you’re a member of the UMW community that has participated in the protest movement and you have questions about preservation or ethical archiving of protest materials, please feel free to contact us at archives@umw.edu. While the library works to reopen safely during the ongoing pandemic, staff remains available to offer help remotely. 

June 30, 2020