Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Global Archives Management Delegation to China: Introduction by Elizabeth W. Adkins, CA

It was my pleasure and honor to lead a delegation of archivists to China in October. A group of 27 of us traveled together October 10-20, 2008, visiting Beijing and Shanghai, and learning about the archives profession in China. The trip was organized under the People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs. People to People was founded in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an effort to better promote cultural understanding through the efforts of individuals. For more information about the organization, see

We had 22 delegates and 5 guests participating in the trip:

Elizabeth W. Adkins, CA (that's me! -- Manager, Global Archives and Audiovisual Assets)
Fred D. Adkins Jr. (my husband, who helped me with logistical support for our delegation visits)
Alison E. Bridger (Senior Manuscripts Cataloger, Folger Shakespeare Library)
Dianne L. Brown, CA (Corporate Archivist, Procter & Gamble)
Mo-Ching Cheung (Assistant University Archivist, University of Hong Kong)
Diane L. Dimkoff (Director, Customer Services Division, Access Programs, National Archives and Records Administration)
Mary Evans (Guest of Max Evans)
Max J. Evans (Director, History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Stacy Belcher Gould (University Archivist, University of Hong Kong)
Eric J. Hartmann (Assistant Archivist, Catholic Archives of Texas)
Kathleen F. "Kit" Leary (Archivist, Oregon Shakespeare Festival)
Nurit Lifshitz, CA (Archivist, California Institute of Technology)
Kathleen Marquis (Adult Services Librarian, Albany Public Library, Laramie, Wyoming)
David F. McCartney (University Archivist, University of Iowa)
Kathryn E. Pereira (Chief Records Analyst, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Archives & Records Center, Archdiocese of Chicago)
James Petersen (Guest of David McCartney)
Patricia Poskie-Thiel (Guest of Mark Thiel)
Kenneth Schlesinger (Chief Librarian, Lehman College, City University of New York)
Patricia A. Scott, CA (Archivist, Pennsylvania College of Technology)
Helen W. Smith, CA (Librarian/Archivist, University of Hawaii at Hilo)
Dee Stout (Guest of Leon Stout)
Leon J. Stout (Retired Archivist, State College, Pennsylvania)
Mark G. Thiel, CA (Archivist, Marquette University)
D. Claudia Thompson (Associate Archivist, University of Wyoming)
Cynthia Treanor (Guest of John Treanor)
John J. Treanor (Vice Chancellor, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Archives & Records Center, Archdiocese of Chicago)
Laetitia Yeandle (Retired Archivist, Adamstown, Maryland)

The delegates participated in visits with our Chinese archival counterparts from various host institutions, while the guests visited some of the local sites. All 27 of us were able to enjoy certain sightseeing highlights. These highlights included Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall at Beijing; and the Shanghai Museum, the Jade Buddha Temple, and a silk rug factory in Shanghai. On our last day in the country we had the opportunity to visit with local families who generously shared wonderful home-prepared meals with us.

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) office helped us prepare gifts for our hosts. These included copies of The American Archivist, Archival Outlook, SAA-published books, and copies of American Archives Month public relations kits. Each host institution also received a complimentary institutional membership in SAA for the next year.

In Beijing we met with the Society of Chinese Archives (which has more than 7,000 individual members), the Beijing Municipal Archives, and the School of Information Resource Management at Renmin University of China. At Shanghai we visited the Shanghai Municipal Archives and the Shanghai Museum, where we were debriefed on the vast and impressive museum collections by the museum's education director.

The Beijing Municipal Archives and the Shanghai Municipal Archives are the equivalent of large state archives in the United States, since the two cities are among four self-governing municipalities in China, separate from the 23 provinces and five autonomous regions. We were very impressed with the scale and quality of the operations at both of these repositories.

One of our delegates, Max Evans, has launched this blog so that we can share with each other and with others what we have learned from this trip, and our desire to learn more.

The time we spent with our Chinese archival colleagues was all too brief. We were delighted by the thoughtfulness and hospitality extended to us, and look forward to an ongoing email exchange with those we met. We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously, and many of us left vowing to return.

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