Hello! Welcome to the first of many blog posts related to the International House Archives. My team and I will be using this space to share news and other information about the history of I-House NYC and its Archives.
Though International House was established in 1924, I-House’s Archives were not formally founded until 2017. The project began with the introduction of a document retention policy, the need to begin preparations for the institution’s upcoming centennial, the likelihood of a building expansion project, and an unexpected leak that put our collections at risk. You can read more about the beginnings of the project here.
It was this latter instance that created the real impetus to act. It became increasingly clear that these were important records that were urgently in need of preservation and care. As a result, International House President, Calvin Sims, took action. Enter The Winthrop Group, an archives consultant agency that inventoried over 1,000 boxes of I-House’s records. Winthrop worked across the institution and provided I-House with a comprehensive survey of its holdings while it outlined crucial recommendations for the next steps. In spring 2018, work on the archive project was presented at I-House’s World Council of Alumni conference, and in June 2018 our Board of Trustees adopted a resolution supporting the project. In June of 2019, the archive project was presented as a successful case study at the “Advancing Foundation Archives” conference held at the Ford Foundation.
I began as I-House’s first Lead Archivist in early September of 2019. I have experience in special collections and archives with a developed passion for promoting diversity and providing accessibility. I was initially drawn to archival work because I love the unique potential of archives to represent silenced voices and to tell hidden stories.
In these next few months, I will start processing the records and making these stories accessible. Developing an archival program from the ground up is a rare opportunity that requires a considerable amount of energy and thoughtfulness. My first and most important goal is to align the International House Archives with the mission and core values of this institution. Accordingly, I-House’s Archives will treat its collections with:
RESPECT: These records are important and deserve our care; we must stabilize and preserve the contents of this Archive for the benefit of future generations.
EMPATHY: This is not just the story of the Rockefeller and Dodge families; this is the story of every individual who has been affected by International House.
MORAL COURAGE. We are going to allow the widest access possible and actively encourage and facilitate discussions, even if they make us uncomfortable.
As I-House’s mission of fostering international understanding is becoming more relevant by the day, I am looking forward to sharing these stories and celebrating the lived experiences that embody this institution.
Finally, a note of thanks to all who continue to advocate for this project; without your support, this important work would not be possible.
Please stay tuned. There is so much more to come!