Have you ever asked yourself:
What do I do with all these photos?
How will anyone know what this was about?
Who might want to see this document in the future and how can it be accessed?
What is this random box of things and what was their significance?
What is the story behind this item?
These were some of the questions posed to the attendees of the Bay District Buddhist Womens League seminar, “Archiving Our Past to Present” that was held over Zoom on March 26.
A grant-funded project titled, “The Impact of Japanese American Incarceration on Alameda, CA — the First California Community Removed under Executive Order 9066” in conjunction with the Alameda Free Library (alamedafree.org), Rhythmix Cultural Works (rhythmix.org) and Densho (densho.org) brought to light the necessity of sharing archiving information to the members of the Alameda Japanese American community and Buddhist Temple of Alameda.
In lieu of a Bay District Buddhist Womens League conference, the Alameda BWA presented an online seminar to introduce in-depth details on overcoming barriers, fears, budget, technology, and staffing concerns with establishing and supporting archive committees within our temples.
Jane Naito, the chairperson of the seminar, stressed how necessary it is to have a system in place now and how to move forward with archiving documents and images of the present as well as backtracking to items from the past.
Naito introduced Dana Nakashima and Andrea Mano from the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple. They shared examples of what their archives committee has done with many of the treasures hidden in storage of their temple and the painstaking efforts of sorting, categorizing things from the past.
They spoke to their many resources that helped and continue to help with research on individual items. Wing Luke Museum (wingluke.org) and Densho are just two of their local organizations that they rely on heavily.
They explained that they had to remain mindful of sharing potentially sensitive material on any digital platform. Both Nakashima and Mano expressed how rewarding it is — not only to them — but to others attached to these items. They expressed how easy it is to engage Sangha members in all aspects of an archives committee and said all you have to do is ask.
The next presentation was by Lizbeth Ramirez, a librarian/archivist for Los Angeles communities and cultures at University of California, Los Angeles, on Preservation and Scanning Techniques and How to Access the BCA Archive Collection.
Ramirez’s presentation was much more technical and provided great suggestions of how to proceed for a successful archives program. Her videos spoke about the importance of primary and secondary sources, how to physically handle, preserve, and store various archivable items, how to scan photographs and storage of scanned files.
Ramirez covered the BCA online archive records housed at the UCLA Library (oca.cdlib.org) and how those files can be requested.
Each presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session with questions from the Zoom chat and live.
The seminar was opened with Rev. Joshin Dennis Fujimoto and a brief service. It was concluded with a BDBWL General Meeting open to all Bay District BWA members.
The video recording of “Archiving Our Past to Present” will be available soon on the BCA website.