Accepted paper:

Tagging Archives, Archiving Tags


Maureen Matthews (Manitoba Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Tagging the database has transformed a recently digitized collection of 900 photographs from passive to active archive as community members and linguists provide Anishinaabe identities for the people in the pictures, reclaiming their ancestors and enriching the library’s archive at the same time.

Paper long abstract:

In the 1930s, the American anthropologist A. Irving Hallowell, took a good camera with him up the Berens River in Northern Manitoba. His 10 years of Berens River fieldwork eventually made both Hallowell and the Ojibwe people famous. His photographic images, more than 900 of them, now reside in one of the most distinguished archives in North America, the American Philosophical Society (APS) Library in Philadelphia. Hallowell sent copies of some of the photos to the community. We know because they were still there in the 1990s; prized possessions of a few families. But for 70 years, most of the photos languished, visited by few, the odd one used to illustrate an article or thesis. In the last five years, they have come to life again and have regained their place in the history of the people of the Berens River. The images are newly digitized and the APS Library has made it possible to tag the database, adding new searchable categories to their website, so that community members can find images of their Anishinaabe relatives using their Anishinaabe names. A collaboration of community members, linguists and the library, this project illustrates the generative capacity of digital images to create new social relationships. The Facebook help centre says that "A tag is a special kind of link. When you tag someone, you create a link to their Timeline." This paper looks at the "special links" formed when photographs and libraries revitalize community ideas about time and history.

panel P13
Archiving Photographs and Photographing Archives