David Ferriero's retirement, the ALA, battle for the soul of Montpelier, genealogy, LGBTQ people, and animation
This newsletter will focus on archives, libraries, pop culture, history, genealogy, LGBTQ people & characters, animation, anime, Netflix's crisis, and other topics
Hello everyone! A lot has happened since my last newsletter. I was a judge at the state level of National History Day, and I’ve continued to be prolific. I forgot to mention, but early in April I published a post about the power of records in one of my favorite anime. About a week ago, I published a post on the fictional library in the anime-inspired series, High Guardian Spice. Apart from that, I recently published a review on The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, entitled “Glitz, Diversity, and Representation in "The Proud Family" Revival” on The Geekiary. I also wrote about the library of Blinky in Tales of Arcadia, and wrote a series recommendation for The Ghost and Molly McGee. With that, let me begin my “too long for email” newsletter!
There was news about reopening of NARA research rooms, a new United States Elections Web Archive Dataset, an interview with Camri Kohler, archivist of PBS Utah, information about the 2022 SAA Research Forum in August, and a court decision stating that web scraping publicly available data is legal. TechCrunch described it as a “major win for archivists, academics, researchers and journalists who use tools to mass collect, or scrape, information that is publicly accessible on the internet” and a loss for LinkedIn, who wanted it to be illegal. There was also the release of a cultural competency report, an interview with three women who work for the Lesbian Elders Oral Herstory Project, and David Ferriero’s retirement on April 30. Before his retirement, he wrote about learning and growing with libraries and archives, highlighting an OCLC report, saying it has relevance for NARA’s “reparative and inclusive description work.” Ferriero has also recommended that Biden not nominate a White male head for NARA, according to Maarija Krusten, who summarized his comments at a March 14 panel.
Beyond this were posts about Archives Space, performing arts in the Coronavirus Web Archive, fragments of medieval manuscripts, web preservation, and the importance of record preservation. There were assorted other articles about metadata in old film rolls, digital preservation and copyright, storage and digital preservation, memory and metadata in social platforms, partners in video game preservation, archiving large-scale multimedia research data, and a reminder that many use the word “archival” incorrectly. Others talked about digital curation in practice and caring for collections on the go. My colleagues at NSA noted that again the head of the DNI is asserting that over-classification is a national security threat.
There were more articles and stories when it came to libraries. Callan, known as eminencefont on Twitter, criticized the ALA in a now-deleted tweet, saying that “random celebrity appearances” isn’t going to make her forget how the ALA didn’t do anything to prioritize library workers for vaccines.
Others wrote about five things you might not know about DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers), a library’s canceled romance book club calling attention to growing censorship, a librarian asking people for good/fulfilling days at work, ways you were productive in a “non-capitalist, non-white-supremacy-culture way,” e-book services bringing “unhinged conspiracy books” into public libraries, a new Kentucky law handing control of libraries to local politicians, and a temporary NYPL program which allows cardholders to “browse, borrow and read a selection of challenged (and often banned) books through a complimentary download”. Articles other than this focused on responsibility and the crisis of information, how we can’t be passive when it comes to privacy, Brooklyn Library offering access to banned eBooks to teens across the U.S., UCLA library collections revealing the legacy of California’s first Black librarian, and a seed librarian in South Africa seeking ancestral knowledge.
There was also the terrible, self-serving, privileged, and pathetic idea of furnishing rooms with books you haven’t read (instead of, I don’t know, gifting them to a library or putting them in the trash). People on Twitter rightly mocked Ashley Tisdale for the idea, although others like Adele have jumped in. Some bookshops have even offered what they call “shelf curation services”, while some designers declared their support as well. It is sad to read about Maryland giving up on its library e-book law, giving the publishers a victory, disturbing to read about the history of Nazi book burning, and a library removing a sign criticizing systemic racism. On the other hand, there were interesting articles about MARC records, the life of a library supervisor, preparing for a library job that never came, the passing of the pneumatic tube system, building a job search strategy, a fascinating town atlas of the Netherlands, portable microscopes, school librarians speaking out against book banning and censorship, and asking whether controlled digital lending is “piracy” (it isn’t). There were additional comments about libraries rely on librarians to determine priorities, the need to get over technophobia, privacy and transgender identities from the perspective of a library student, and evolving public libraries.
Michele T. Fenton’s Little Known Black Librarians Facts blog had some interesting posts worth sharing. They specifically focused on school librarian F. Blanche Foster (1918-1988) and librarians employed at Theodore Roosevelt High School of Gary, Indiana to educate the town’s Black students in the 1930s. Also worth pointing out are a couple of mentions of libraries in popular culture, whether in an episode of Seinfeld, the librarian character Yukine Miyazawa in Clannad ~After Story~, a wanna-be librarian named Ikta Solork in Alderamin on the Sky, a labyrinthine library in the 1980 mystery novel The Name of the Rose, a robot librarian named Kato in Straight Title Robot Anime, and a story by Jorge Luis Brges entitled The Library of Babel which focuses on a universe in the “form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format and character set.”
With that I move onto history. There has been chatter about the Montpelier Foundation which runs the home of James Madison ending the power-sharing agreement with descendants of enslaved peoples, and firing those who disagreed with this decision, something which The National Trust for Historic Preservation denounced, as did the descendants. It isn’t looking good for Montpelier, and the articles in various media outlets on this dispute, like the Washington Post, Orange County Review, Richmond Times Dispatch, Bristol Herald Courier, Augusta Free Press, the Free Lance Star, Associated Press, History News Network, and others, were rightly critical. Some since then have called for a compromise, while The National Trust for Historic Preservation voiced its support for the nominees that the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC) presented to the board of directors of the Montpelier Foundation, while the head of the board cried that people are rightly calling him a racist for ending the power sharing agreement, and a racist was appointed to the board who grumbles about the focus on enslavement and Black history.
The staff has since vowed to keep fighting on even as they fear retaliation, worrying that the firing of certain staff has left archaeological findings in jeopardy, while the Foundation board is crying that people are calling them “villains”, sneering at the MDC, grumbling about losing “prestige and credibility.” The response on social media continues to be critical, like a thread from Dr. Porchia Moore and another from the Society for Cultural Anthropology, for example.
There are other history articles as well. The History News Network reported on footage within the New York City archives which shed light on the civil rights movement in the city and police efforts to undermine it (related to other articles by the same author, L.E.J. Rachell, here and here), about "Two-Spirit" visibility and the year activists rewrote history, the need for there to be more taught about Asian-American history, how land sale contracts looted Black wealth and gutted Chicago communities, confronting the erasure of Native Americans in early American towns and cities, and, among other subjects, history of the year, 1968. The American Historical Association provided results from a national survey on history.
NARA noted an event about the contested history of conservation on federal lands, where Adam Sowards, an environmental historian, made an appearance. My classmate at UMD in library school, Christina Taylor Gibson, posted about the scholarship of Mabel Dodge Luhan. The blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) shared the names of new staff of SHPO. The Seattle Times noted ways that residents can rename 18 geographic sites with derogatory. Hingham Archives shared stories about Irish people in Hingham and the Farm Hills Civic Society.
HyperAllergic reported that the last public Confederate statue in Maryland was removed, an empowered vision of Crow history, how Harvard enslaved over 70 people, a new online tool allows users to scroll through geologic time, what makes medieval art so memeable, Smithsonian adopting a “landmark” policy on ethical restitution, the ceaseless optimism of Woody Guthrie’s activist life, the overlooked women filmmakers of the anti-colonial movement, unearthing Austin’s overlooked Chicano art history, a documentary which finds the roots of modern policing techniques in the 1960s, printmaking and politics converged in the Chicano movement, why the Columbus monument in Santo Domingo still stands, an author sues New York Prisons for banning a book about the Attica uprising, a 1774 Phillis Wheatley letter admonishing slavery joining a museum collection, and two Navajo artists weaving new histories. Additional articles included the Sisters of Prémontré Database assembled by Yvonne Seale, an exhibit on the history of Japanese American Farm Labor Camps, the long history of American Nazism, Vikings in North America, and the history of the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence in the 1880s.
The Library of Congress had posts about the legislative history of Yellowstone, women’s history, a new story map documenting World War I, the provincial empire of fascism in Rome, the story of Rachel Carson, the defender of the natural world, and celebrating 110 years of cherry blossoms.
The Journal of American Revolution had articles on a British soldier’s son who became an early American, the first partition of Poland, the story of King George III’s bust, the sixteenth pope of Connecticut, women in the revolutionary era who should have Wikipedia entries, answering whether George Washington swore at Charles Lee during the Battle of Monmouth, the last royal governors of the American colonies, and Benjamin Franklin’s East Florida warning. Other articles in the same publication focused on British views of George Washington, the story of patriot John Greenwood Adroit, the 71st regiment of Foot Wanders, Cornelius Harnett and the burning of Fort Johnston, and a story of the defense of Mount Independence in Spring 1776.
Smithsonian magazine had articles on Harriet Tubman as a naturalist (along with being an abolitionist and political activist which she is more well known for), the myth of the woman spy who supposedly helped win the revolutionary war, the Black record label that introduced the Beatles to America, the 9,000-year-old almost intact shrine in the Jordan desert, U.S. effort to rename 660 mountains, rivers and more to remove racist word, why female animals evolved to have such wild sex organs, mid-19th century reactions to a laundry invention, archaeologists learning lives of Chinese immigrants on the transcontinental railroad, history of the breakup album, the enslaved woman who liberated a slave jail and turned it into a HBCU, and archaeologists have uncovered a 2,550-year-old etching of the last king of Babylon.
Related to this is the subject of genealogy. There were assorted posts on postcards and local history research, over a thousand online historical newspaper titles for historical newspaper titles, four ways to find African matches on DNA sites, the village of Lauterbrunnen, women’s history month and genealogy, and a genealogist’s work examining living free people of color before 1820, genealogy, the palatines and the failed English navy project. Others talked about immigration paths in America, the role of the census enumerator, and an introduction to Thai genealogy. Genealogy journal had articles on place-making, privacy, and kinship in Spanish international adoption, and title transnationalism and genealogy.
On a different subject is LGBTQ issues. ScreenRant noted great graphic novels for fans of Heartstopper, a coming of age TV series with LGBTQ themes. CBR reported that The Wheel of Time Season 2 would “delve deeper into one polyamorous romance.” Articles beyond this focused on the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, polyamory vs. an open relationship, defining “polybombing,” 13 poly relationship terms and their meanings, consensual non-mongamies, and polyamory in young adult fiction. There’s also the news of Janelle Monae coming out as non-binary, food insecurity of LGBTQ people of color higher than White non-LGBTQ people, children’s TV shows leading the way on LGBTQ representation, and myths about polyamory. Others wrote about romantic orientation, provided a timeline of anti-ace blogging, asking what kind of legal protection asexual people need, a story about asexual liberation, and Kacey Musgraves talking about country radio backlash to gay-positive songs, among other topics.
The post which I wholeheartedly agreed with which I read recently was an editorial in the Kansas City Star noting that Roger Marshall and four other Republican senators sent a letter to the TV Parental Guidelines board. It declared that parents should be warned about “sexual orientation and gender identity content on children’s TV shows,” noting that the examples listed included She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Danger Force, a Pixar job listing, and a Disney public service ad, with the letter claiming that “kids seeing LGBT characters on screen might just turn them” and missing the fact that these programs “simply acknowledge the fact that there exist people outside gender or sexual orientation norms by showing them,” adding that “LGBT people learn who they are on their own timetables.” The article ended by saying that we should get real about how awful relationships are depicted in television, and that “simply seeing LGBT characters on TV is no threat to our children’s well-being.”
The most exciting animation news this week is Sara Eissa’s “Tooncave,” a website which will showcase indie animation (either animated series or films), which is scheduled to be launched this week! It is currently in a beta stage. I’m excited to see where it goes since Rad Sechrist’s Project City is moving forward, but there hasn’t been any news to report, especially on the effort to fund animated projects, from what I can tell from the current Project City twitter feed. As a reminded, I wrote about Project City back in February if you are interested in reading that. Otherwise, there has been exciting news, like the production of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder beginning production on a second season, continuation of shows like The Owl House and Amphibia for the time being, along with upcoming episodes on Disney+ like Mira Royal Detective (season 2) on May 11. Others wrote about animated movies that prove that animation isn’t just for kids, proposed the idea that animation have its own awards show, some fans of The Owl House proposing what the show would be like for adults, and a summary of the history of Cartoon Network.
There were more stories when it came to anime. Some wrote about series like Spy X Family, cosplay, and recommended anime. For the latter, ScreenRant recommended Aldnoah Zero, Yuri!!! On Ice, Plastic Memories, Hyouka, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Attack on Titan, My Dress-Up Darling, Demon Slayer, Violet Evergarden, and Jujutsu Kaisen. I’m not sure about My Dress-Up Darling as I’ve expressed in earlier newsletters, but I’d be willing to at least try the others. The same goes for sports anime recommended by the same site, or others recommended by epicstream, apart from Kiss Him Not Me!, which I’d say should be watched. At the same time, The Mary Sue had some interesting series which might be worth checking out like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Mononoke as did another ScreenRant article, along with articles in Metropolis Japan and BuzzFeed.
Additional articles beyond this focused on the supposed “tear down” of toxic masculinity in the first episode of an anime, crowdsourcing of a release of Dirty Pair, asking whether an anime is boy’s life or not, a twist in an anime of a historical character transported to the present-day, the worrying trend of how Disney is promoting itself to anime companies, an anime movie of My Next Life as a Villainess coming next year, and the awesome musical series, D4DJ getting a second season in winter 2023! There was also a review of the first three episodes of Aharen-san wa Hakarenai, a review of the first two episodes of Spy x Family, anime promoting the sport of picking up trash, Crunchyroll removing various anime from their service, and halting ad-support simulcast streaming. Others wrote on the battle for union anime dubs, the most anticipated anime of Spring 2022, the upcoming Laid Back Camp movie (which has a school library volunteer as a protagonist), and the “strong growth potential” of the shojo anime genre.
That brings me to a thread started by Lauren Faust, the creator most prominently of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and DC Super Hero Girls, about why people, specifically people who were teenage girls (or are), like anime better than Western animation, in terms of what reflects “their interests and experiences.” Faust said that Western animation was rabid at “not showing girls as waif[u]s” (“fans use it in the possessive to describe a particular character that they have romantic feelings toward” according to Forbes), and not getting “the guy” while any girls seen as ambitious are deemed as unlikable and selfish. Others stated that they hoped to see Western studios have animated workplace comedies/romances with a “focus on a female lead,” that people like more realistic character designs, that there is more “young adult fantasy” as a continuing story in anime, praised the music and mature subject matter in anime as compared to Western animation, that anime depicts a “wider range of human emotions…and gender expression” along with serialized storytelling, some of which was reflected by other comments as well.
Additional comments said Western animation assumes that “girls want to watch high school drama,” that some shows don’t have a home unless they are aged up, was glad to see the lines between anime and Western animation blur, and noted that anime does cartoons which are “basically the American Civil War” twice a year but with “different twists” and has high quality drawings as compared to Western animation. Some called Western animations “uglier” today and without a “direct storyline” unless they are “more adult” and said that for anime it can be fun to “piece together the psychology of a character” based on character acting, while arguing that anime tackles issues and goes deeper than Western animation, covering a wide variety of topics often with quirky characters, enticing plots, a realistic “escape to a better high school experience”, and stated that Western animation has been “horrible looking” in terms of design while anime “looks nicer and…has a pleasing style.” Others even stated that anime has better writing than Western animation. What people write about anime here I can agree with, even as a person who has watched multiple Western animations but is watching more anime now than I have in the past.
That brings me to Netflix. As you may or may not know, Netflix’s stock lost a lot of value after a report found that the streaming service lost subscribers for the first time in 10 years, with an estimated 2 million more to leave in the next quarter. In response, the service declared that it is exploring a lower-priced ad supported plan, and will be cracking down on “password sharing” (i.e. sharing your account outside your household) by making people pay more if they do that. This is despite the fact that an estimated 100 million people are doing this. Some blamed “legacy media industry” like Comcast, Disney, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal, and Disney for the drop, but I’d argue it has more to do with Netflix cancelling shows that people like and raising their prices. This includes cancelling shows like Bones and Curses (made by someone of South Asian descent) and others. Ultimately, this is just a bump in the road for Netflix, which recently fired its editorial staff, and has fired various people within the company’s animation department. People will undoubtedly continue to use the service, whether to watch anime or something else, but my guess is that some creators will steer clear of Netflix based on their targeting of animators in the wake of the loss of the company’s value, and pitch their shows elsewhere instead.
There are other topics worth noting in this newsletter. For one, there have been stories about brutal occupiers in Palestine destroying a major Palestinian archeological site, Seattle Art Museum guards trying to unionize, the Guggenhei dropping the Sackler family name, thousands taking to the streets of New York City to rally for abortion rights, the cartoonist that reactionaries love to hate, terrors of whiteness in Wu Tsan'g’s adaptation of Moby Dick, whose who lose at the monopoly of gentrification, how a racist statue in Iceland ended up inside a rocket ship, and the UK recognizing NFTs as property. History News Network included articles from those arguing that insulin injections should be affordable, the stealth announcement of Confederate History Month by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, the leaked draft of the SCOTUS abortion decision which rejects Roe v. Wade while teeing up Obergefell, Griswold, and Lawrence, the dangerous trend of imperial nostalgia, why we shouldn’t be starting a nuclear arms race over the crisis in Ukraine, and the issue of visibility in Latine art. Beyond this were articles about how the pandemic is obviously not over, despite the Biden administration continuing to act like it “behind” us, the texts between Mark Meadows and other reactionary figures in 2020 and 2021, which reveal the inner circle of the former president.
Additional articles of note focused on the lives of UMD’s groundskeepers, a criticism of Human Rights Campaign for whitewashing Amazon’s awful/hellish labor practices, whether future of work opens so-called “new growth horizon” (whatever that means) for small towns with rural remote work, a Kentucky fashion designer who reflects on bluegrass roots, realities with navigating Texas anti-abortion laws, portraits of Houston's Black urban farmers, how funk music taught someone to be an environmentalist, and the difference between Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism. Others reported on how FBI documents expose Bureau‘s Big Jan. 6 ‘Lie‘, on plus-size Latinas, the troubling planned release of 24 billion genetically modified mosquitoes, half-truths and myths propelled Kentucky’s war on opioids, and weapons testing at a new facility which could expose the public to toxic chemicals. There were a few other articles of note, like those noting that highlanders in Papua New Guinea physically differ from those living new sea level, anonymity versus privacy in a control society, the best songs of the 1970s, identifying opportunities for collective curation during archaeological excavations, and the mile-high tsunami caused by the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs left behind towering ‘megaripples’.
Finally, there are illustration in The Nib. Some focused on efforts to limit reproductive rights, mothers struggling to get baby formula, democracy by mail and wrongheaded efforts to limit mail voting, dumbass people (mostly White people, let’s be honest) celebrating taking off their masks, how present attitudes would clash with the past if there was time travel tourism, a hollow PR stunt by Disney, the pot-to-prison pipeline and its negative effects, bogus phrases which should be used in the mainstream rather than those who smear the “Left”, the terror within our current society, how climate change, and real estate developers, are eating away at Puerto Rico’s coastline, optical delusions, and cartoonists who have lived through an extreme weather disaster.
With that, this newsletter comes an end. At best, the next newsletter will be sent two or three weeks from now, depending on when I have time to work on it. Hope you all have a good weekend, week, and month ahead! Until next time.