Consciously Editing SCUA’s Finding Aids

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link






The phrase “conscious editing” was first used by archivists at UNC-Chapel Hill to describe their work “to re-envision our descriptive practice so that whiteness is no longer the presumed default, language in our description products is inclusive and accessible, and our description does not obscure collection material that documents the lives of enslaved people.” Students in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have been working from home over the past year to evaluate and improve archivist-created description in SCUA’s finding aids to be more inclusive. In the first part of the project, students read all of SCUA’s finding aids published on the Archival Collections website and applied a rating scale to indicate how the archival description could be improved and the nature of the needed edits. In April, students began to update the finding aids using guidelines such as the “Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia: Anti-Racist Description Resources,” the Conscious Style Guide, and many more. This presentation will summarize the results of the finding aid audit and propose new conscious editing guidelines that will be written into SCUA’s archival processing manual.


Presented at the 2021 UMD Libraries Research and Innovative Practice Forum.