This past summer, International House and The Winthrop Group discussed their successful partnership on the early stages of International House’s archive project at a conference of foundation archivists. The conference, “Advancing Foundation Archives: Advocacy, Strategies and Solutions,” was the first of its kind in 30 years and placed I-House within the broader context of organizations committed to stewarding their records.
The work conducted by International House and The Winthrop Group was presented on a panel entitled “Getting It Done: Collaborative Case Studies.” Michael Walter, Special Assistant to the President at International House and the I-House archive project manager, presented alongside Sam Markham, Director at The Winthrop Group, with whom I-House partnered on the first phase of launching the I-House Archive project.
Markham and Walter spoke about the project’s history, focusing on early assessment and strategy work. They spoke of how the House began developing its archive program in 2018. “We’re just beginning to discover what we have,” Walter stated. “This is a project of great urgency – many of our records are falling apart. It’s also a project of great value, because the archives feature a wealth of untold stories that relate to the work we’re doing today and will be doing in the future. It will serve the House for decades to follow.”
International House NY has been a residence and program center for young men and women from across the globe since 1924 and currently houses almost 700 post-graduates from 90 countries. Its records include correspondence from notable alumni like opera legend Leontyne Price, tech scion Tatsuro Toyoda, and author Chinua Achebe. The records also include information about why remarkable leaders, including David Rockefeller, have consistently been drawn to the House’s mission of fostering international understanding and lifelong connections. Rockefeller was the subject of an earlier partnership between the two organizations, which had resulted in a book and event to celebrate Rockefeller’s global citizenship and lifelong connection to International House.
Held at the Ford Foundation, the conference was sponsored by Ford, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and the Rockefeller Archive Center. Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker, opened the conference and spoke about the ongoing relevance of archive programs.
The conference brought together a wide range of speakers from across the country, including archivists, records managers, and researchers, as well as foundation leaders, grant managers, and information technology professionals. The program employed creative panel configurations to provide successful communication strategies to connect to stakeholders on a variety of issues. These panels focused on the work done by various institutions to demonstrate practical, real-world problems and their solutions.
A recording of the session is available here, with International House and The Winthrop Group presenting at the 30:39 mark.