The National Archives is committed to maintaining an “open, inclusive work environment that is built on respect, communication, integrity, and collaborative teamwork.” Together, we are strengthened by diversity and advanced by inclusion. As part of NARA’s ongoing focus on the subject of civil rights and diversity, both in the historical record and as an organization, I am pleased to announce several exciting initiatives at the National Archives that both celebrate our diversity and provide a forum for education and communication.
Promoting diversity among our staff is an integral part of NARA’s diversity and inclusion strategy. One way we promote such diversity is through Employee Affinity Groups: voluntary, employee-driven groups based around shared interests or life experiences. The groups facilitate professional development, cultural connections, diversity, and communication throughout our workforce. When the groups started in 2014, we had just two: Stonewall@NARA, a group for LGBTQ employees and allies, and IKE, our veterans group. In the last two years we have added four more to include: HALO (Hispanics and Latinos); disABILITY (Individuals with Disabilities); Say it Loud! (African-Americans); and WAG (Women’s). Among other activities, these groups have been working to develop web resources, identify relevant records, digitize documents, and add them to our Catalog.
Recently, the Stonewall@NARA group launched Discovering LGBTQ History on Tumblr to feature documents reflecting the history of American lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women from 1778 to the present.
2016 marks the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, one of our nation’s early attempts to form “a more perfect union.” We are celebrating this milestone with our Amending America initiative, which includes exhibits, National Conversation events, and online activities exploring the rights we have as a diverse society and examining the 11,000 attempts to amend our constitution. As part of this thematic focus, NARA will host a Wikipedia editathon in our Innovation Hub related to LGBTQ rights and the records we hold in the National Archives. This event will take place on Thursday, June 16 and is free and open to the public.
Continuing our tradition of supporting the Wikipedia community, the National Archives is excited to host the Wikimedia Diversity Conference on June 17-18. We are co-organizing the event with Wikimedia D.C., which reflects our shared commitment to embracing diversity. The Wikimedia Diversity Conference aims to address issues of diversity within the editing community of Wikipedia and related projects, including the highly publicized gender gap among Wikipedia editors. This event is an outgrowth of last year’s WikiConference USA at the National Archives, during which the topic of diversity became a major theme. The conference is open to the public, whether you are already a Wikipedia editor or not, especially anyone interested in the subjects of Wikipedia or diversity. The Wikimedia Diversity Conference will include workshops, panels, and presentations that highlight practices, tactics, or ideas addressing diversity in the Wikimedia movement, and related issues such as systemic bias and online harassment.
Wikipedia represents an important venue for NARA to “make access happen,” sharing our records with a wide audience in a way that is relevant to them. Hosting the Wikimedia Diversity Conference reaffirms the National Archives’ commitment to providing access to all government records for everyone. Our work with Wikipedia, and on the theme of diversity specifically, is another example of NARA innovating to achieve our vision of bringing greater meaning to the American experience through government records. You can read more about our Wikipedia strategy in NARA’s most recent Open Government Plan.
I expect NARA’s staff in attendance to offer valuable insight for the conference, as well as to learn and grow from the discussions that take place. We are proud be a part of this project which will encourage diversity in both the Wikipedia and the National Archives communities.
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