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, the Archives were not formally founded until 2017. The project was first conceived 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. I-House first contracted 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 and outlined important recommendations for next steps. In spring 2018, this 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 Archives 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. With a Masters in Library and Information Science, I have experience working with special collections and archives and a passion for promoting diversity and providing access. I am drawn to archives for a variety of reasons. First, I love archives ability to tell stories; Archives provide first hand evidence of who we are and allow us to imagine who we might become. Archives also support communities; Equal and open access to records are vital to ensure accountability and transparency within a healthy and vibrant democracy. Finally, I take genuine pride in connecting users with resources and helping others in their research.
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. My most important goal is to align the International House Archives with the mission and core values of this institution. Accordingly, the 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 work would not be possible.
Please stay tuned. There is so much more to come!