• 04 Oct 2015 8:38 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    Congratulations to Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts and Jessica Farrell, two of our members that attended the Archives Institute Leadership this summer. See below for some of their reflections!

    Archives Leadership Institute applications are due November 30, and here to share some reflections, give some advice, and encourage you to apply are two Chicago-area members of the 2015 cohort.

    But first, if you’ve never heard of ALI, let’s catch you up. Funded by the NHPRC, ALI provides advanced training for 25 archival leaders each year, giving them knowledge and tools to transform the profession in practice, theory, and attitude. It’s a heavily-subsidized week-long summer institute (under $1000 for all included lodging, training, meals) that feels much like a retreat. In 2016-2018, the program is located at Berea College in Kentucky.

    The 6-member ALI steering committee evaluates applications through December, and the cohort is notified of their acceptance in the early months of the following year. Community building starts virtually, shortly after the cohort is identified. We were assigned small mentor groups consisting of one mentor and four mentees, got to know each other in those small groups, and then shared our introductions with the whole cohort. There were a few pre-reading and assignments leading up to the institute. After the institute, you stay in touch with your small mentor groups with periodic check-ins and there’s usually an ALI event at each SAA conference where you can mix with past and present cohorts. You may have started to catch on to a theme here, which is that ALI is NOT just a week-long one and done experience! And since ALI began in 2008, it’s accumulated many members through the years, creating an exciting critical mass full of potential for steering the archives profession in the future.

    ALI cohorts include participants with a range of backgrounds, specializations, job descriptions within the archival field, and of course, personalities! So as you can imagine people apply and attend ALI for a variety of reasons. Here are some personal reflections from two 2015 cohort members:

    Jessica Farrell, Curator of Digital Collections for Harvard Law School

    I applied to ALI because I was thirsty for more leadership opportunities that I simply wasn’t able to get from my day job. An early career archivist, I have a lot of ambition but haven’t yet snagged a paid leadership position. I supplemented my day job with serving on two professional association steering committees, but I wanted more training to prepare me for a future of leadership in archival practice as well.

    ALI taught me a ton of things I already knew and wasn’t recognizing, along with some new skills to take back to the workplace. We are all leaders in so many small and big ways, whether our job title says it or not. Recognizing how we can influence from our current position, whatever that is, is so important, and so possible. I learned that what’s more important than simply “networking” is building and nurturing your community. The ALI cohort is so much more than a network. They are - sorry to get sappy here, but - your friends, mentors, coaches, sounding boards, supporters, and partners in crime for life. Since the end of the institute this June, I’ve already got a long list of things I attribute to ALI: an SAA ‘16 panel proposal, a Twitter account, meaningful connections to way more institutions and people in the field (think ALI cohort + everyone they know + the institutions they’ve worked at in the past, etc. all as possible future connections), some job interviews and even an offer, and most importantly, a completely new level of confidence in my leadership potential...and I’m excited to see how that list will grow.

    Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts, DePaul University, Special Collections Instruction Librarian

    I have been interested in a formal leadership training program for a number of years. ALI was on my radar because several good friends and colleagues spoke highly of their experience.  And, after this summer’s immersion week and the follow up workshop at the SAA conference in Cleveland it is my turn to share my enthusiasm for this amazing program.  I gained tremendous personal insight through ALI’s curriculum, faculty, and mentor groups and I am now shaping my professional goals accordingly.  I also have a stronger grasp on how I can contribute to my institution and the special collections and archives community.  The ALI experience connected me with a group of highly motivated individuals who share a desire to learn, develop, and inspire others.  

    Now that we’ve got your full interest in applying for this amazing program, here are some of our tips for the application process:

    • Start early! Start NOW! The application is pretty lengthy and consists of a lot of writing. We recommend setting aside about 20 hours to complete it.
    • If you’ve applied before and didn’t get in but are still interested, try again. The steering committee encourages repeat applicants. They make tough decisions each year and you’ve certainly grown since the last time you applied, so go for it!
    • If you’d like some feedback on your application before turning it in, send it to Rachel Vagts [] and she will facilitate a review.
    • With constant access to email and the ability to work from a distance, it can be tough to arrange complete disengagement from your day job for a week. But we recommend it as much as possible! The retreat style of the institute means that it’s held somewhat off-the-grid. It’s designed to make you tune in and interact, staying fully engaged in growing and bettering yourself for a week.

    For more information on what ALI is looking for in applicants, visit the call for applications on their website.

    And for more tips, feel free to reach out to your fellow CAA members: Jessica, Morgen, Benn Joseph (IIT, Head of University Archives and Special Collections; ALI 2013 Cohort), or Jamie Nelson (DePaul University, Head of Special Collections and Archives; ALI 2014 Cohort).  Now, go forth and apply to ALI!

    ALI 2015 Cohort, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, June 2015

  • 15 Sep 2015 5:19 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    Check out the latest newsletter from the National Archives at Chicago, including stories about:

  • 11 Sep 2015 11:13 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    CAA's own Frank Villella, archivist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was profiled in Modern Luxury's CS magazine along with objects from the collection. Check out a preview from the article below and make sure to read the whole thing - congratulations to Frank and to CSO on starting their 125th season!

  • 31 Aug 2015 9:13 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    While attending the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Conference in Cleveland, Steering Committee member Anita Mechler joined a meeting of the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) as the liaison for CAA and as a new member of the Grant Development subcommittee. Representatives from RAAC discussed their 3-year plan: to support information exchange among the leadership of regional organizations and between regionals and SAA; to encourage collaboration among the regionals and between SAA and the regionals; to coordinate efforts to streamline actions, reduce costs, and increase services to archivists around the nation. An overarching goal is to create more formal and regular lines of communication and anything shared by RAAC will be shared with CAA members through this liaison position. [For more information, please visit the SAA website at:].

  • 12 Aug 2015 6:06 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    In this issue:

    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Harbor Beach, Michigan

    • Tree Replacement at NARA at Chicago


  • 23 Jul 2015 10:46 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    In this issue

    • Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Eastland Disaster 
    • Kris Jarosik, NARA’s Education Specialist, Departing
    • Emerald Ash Borer Takes Its Toll on NARA’s Trees 

  • 24 Jun 2015 4:45 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    Preserving and Conserving Your Documents

    Saturday, July 18, 1:30 - 3:00
    Martin Tuohy, Archivist

    Every important document, photograph, or recording will deteriorate or get damaged over time. Even the ink on the Declaration of Independence has faded into barely readable text. Digital data can deteriorate within five years if kept on the original storage media. What practical steps can we take to preserve our historical document collections? How far should we expend effort and money to prolong the life of a document? 

    This workshop will introduce family historians and local history enthusiasts to basic preservation practices. Workshop participants will learn in everyday terms how paper, photographic prints and negatives, blueprints, magnetic media, and digital media deteriorate - and what simple steps and products can slow or stop that deterioration. Topics to be covered include "inherent vice," proper storage location and housing, environmental control, archival supplies, "silent disasters," and preservation versus conservation. Participants also will learn how to assess risk and make cost-benefit decisions about preservation and conservation. Examples from the National Museum of the American Sailor's archival collection will be used to illustrate some of the common problems and potential solutions.

    This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required by July 17. Please send your name, phone number, and the name of the workshop to: or (847) 688-3154 ext. 217.

    Care and Preservation of Textiles
    Saturday, August 15 1:30-3 PM 
    Kari Atkinson, Collections Manager

    Textiles, be they museum artifacts or family heirlooms, are delicate, fascinating, and often times irreplaceable objects. Damage comes far too easy and is usually irreversible. However, there are simple methods of storage and general care that, when done correctly, can protect your textiles and ensure their preservation.

    Please join the Museum's Collection Manager, Kari Atkinson, as she discusses simple techniques for textile preservation including boxing, rolling, or hanging; proper storage materials; methods of cleaning; and when to call a professional conservator. 

    Participants are encouraged to bring a photograph of a textile and will receive a complementary pair of cotton gloves to take home. Please do not bring any textiles to the workshop.
    This event is free and open to the public. Advanced registration is required. Please send your name, phone number, and the name of the workshop to: or (847) 688-3154 ext. 208.

    About the Great Lakes Naval Museum:
    The Naval History and Heritage Command's Great Lakes Naval Museum is located in the National Register-listed Hostess House (Building 42) at 610 Farragut Avenue, Great Lakes, Illinois 60088-2618. The Great Lakes Naval Museum's parking lot is accessible to the public just north of Naval Station Great Lakes' main gate and just east of Sheridan Road, about one-half mile north of Buckley Road (Illinois Route 137). The Great Lakes Naval Museum also is accessible by Metra commuter trains from the Great Lakes train station, located about one-half mile southwest of the museum. Details about visiting the Great Lakes Naval Museum can be found online at Great Lakes Naval Museum or by calling (847) 688-3154.

  • 18 Jun 2015 10:45 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt
    The June newsletter from the Robert M. Myers Archives and SVD Resource Center is now available! This newsletter includes articles on archival principles and Arnold Janssen Kleines Lesebuch by Father Joseph Alt.

  • 15 Jun 2015 11:30 AM | Gretchen Neidhardt

    Read all about

    • Select Microfilmed and Digitized Records on 19th Century U.S. Army Posts.
    • Summer Interns at the National Archives at Chicago
    • President Obama and First Lady Choose Chicago as Site for Presidential Center
    • Flag Day
    • Happy Father’s Day

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