The Institute of Museum and Library Services has recently awarded Dr. Ana Roeschley, Assistant Professor and Director of the Archival Studies Program at the University of North Texas Department of Information Science and co-director of the Archives Learning Lab, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant. The half-million-dollar award will support Dr. Roeschley’s three-year research work, “Records of Refuge: Supporting Refugee Communities’ Archival Needs Project,” which will address research gaps related to the documentary and archival needs of refugees in the United States.
This research will provide valuable insights and benefits to refugees, archivists, records managers, public librarians, community memory workers, and others working with refugee communities through a comprehensive exploration of best practices and protocols for the proper management of vital records upon refugees’ entry into the country, as well as the establishment and long-term preservation of refugees’ personal digital archives.
The project is influenced by Dr. Roeschley’s experience as a war refugee and her past research with immigrant participants in community-based archives. The current Ukraine and Afghanistan refugee crisis has made visible the significant challenges many refugees face when they are displaced without personal records. “I’m honored to receive this award and put it toward developing a foundational understanding of refugees’ archival needs, ultimately leading to new archival practices for refugee communities and those who work with them,” said Dr. Roeschley.
A portion of the funds will support two research assistants who will work alongside Dr. Roeschley throughout the project. Her current assistants are Kinza Alizai and Julie Miller. Kinza is a University of North Texas doctoral student in the Department of Information Science with a concentration in Archival Studies. She looks to work with Afghan refugees (women and children) who have settled in Balochistan, Pakistan. Julie is a University of North Texas graduate student with a concentration in archival studies. Upon graduation, she hopes to work as an archivist in a special collections department.