Documenting the Immigrant and Ethnic Experience in American Archives

Daniel, Dominique. “Documenting the Immigrant and Ethnic Experience in American Archives.” The American Archivist 73, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2010): 82–104.

Charting developments in the field since the 1960s, Dominique Daniel shows evolution of what she defines as “ethnic archiving”—the changes in archival processes and theory to document the experiences of immigrants and different ethnic communities. She starts with Howard Zinn’s famous observation of the biases and silences within the archives through the difficulties faced by archivists who sought to address Zinn’s critique: the difficulties of collecting and elevating the records and materials of immigrant and ethnic communities, and the real challenge of and need for building trust and connections with these communities. According to the author, much of this work is buoyed by postmodernism’s popularity and the development of digital technologies for archives. Daniel emphasizes the necessary and integral work of continuing to involve ethnic and immigrant communities in archival processes and to form deeper relationships with them.