Community-driven archivist named 2020 ‘Mover and Shaker’
Nancy Godoy, associate archivist of the ASU Library's Chicano/a Research Collection and leader of the Community-Driven Archives Initiative, has been named a 2020 “Mover and Shaker” by the Library Journal for her pioneering work that reimagines the role of archives as safe, inclusive spaces for Arizona’s minority communities to reclaim authorship over their own history.
“Arizona’s archives are dominated by white narratives that romanticize a ‘Wild West’ history,” said Godoy, who was awarded grant funding in 2017 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop and execute a series of strategies to make Arizona’s historical records more accurate and inclusive — part of a response to an Arizona Archives Matrix report that estimated Latino, African American, Asian American and LGBTQ communities make up more than 42% of Arizona’s current population but are only represented in 0%-2% of known archival collections.
In its final year, the grant project has steadily grown, garnering further support from the Arizona State University Library and taking on new life with the recent launch of the ASU Library Community-Driven Archives Initiative.
“Our team has moved beyond just focusing on collection development to ensuring that people from underdocumented communities are truly able to engage at all levels of the archival process,” Godoy said. “Unlike traditional archives, who only measure success by how many collections they acquire, we are measuring our success by how many people attend our events, how many people feel empowered, and how many relationships we build.”
Working with a variety of community partners, including the Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, the Community-Driven Archives team, led by Godoy and Alana Varner, project archivist, regularly hosts and co-hosts educational workshops for the public on how to preserve one’s history.
Workshops include “Scanning and Oral History Days,” an event that offers free photo scanning and use of audio recording stations, and “Community History and Archives Workshop,” where participants train to be a community archivist in the span of two hours — learning the ins and outs of archival theory and how to arrange and organize materials by subject, date or size.
Workshop attendees receive an archive starter kit containing supplies and a brochure on preservation in both English and Spanish.
“The distinction between ‘community-based’ and ‘community-driven’ archives is important because the latter puts the power in the community to make the choices they need to make in order to document their history,” Godoy said. “In academia, we often tell people what we think but they have knowledge and lived experiences that make them experts too. It shouldn’t just be us taking care of history. We’ve done that in the past and we’ve excluded people.”
Nancy Godoy (far left) stands with the ASU Library's Community-Driven Archives team: (back row, from left to right) Heather Boardwell, student archivist; Alana Varner, project archivist; Myra Khan, student archivist; (front row seated, from left to right) Preetpal Gill, student archivist; Jessica Salow, project archivist; and Denise Mosso Ruiz, student archivist.
The Library Journal defines a “Mover and Shaker” as someone who is transforming the work of libraries and the communities that use them. Godoy is among 46 individuals named to this year’s cohort.
“Nancy Godoy, through her leadership, creativity, compassion and drive, is redefining what it means to be an archivist today,” said Lorrie McAllister, associate university librarian for collections and strategy at the ASU Library. “She challenges all of us to raise the bar for library engagement and to take relationship-building between communities and academic institutions to new levels.”
Godoy also has a forthcoming article on archival healing and justice (often leading to an emotional response her team lovingly refers to as the “archives glow”) to be included in the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies' special issue on radical empathy in archival practice.
“One of my favorite things about this work is that community members are learning how to create a story that speaks to their reality,” Godoy said. “They are redefining what an archive is, what should be included, and who should have access to community archives and history.”