Telling Untold Histories Unconference

It’s conference season, and choosing which event to attend can be daunting. Sometimes it can feel like all those sessions go by in a blur, as you furiously scribble notes across handouts, network in the short spurts between the professional development skill-builder and the discussion roundtable, and make a quick stop for any caffeine possible to combat the effects of sitting still for hours.

If you find yourself nodding your head in furtive identification with those challenges, the Telling Untold Histories Unconference, offered at Rutgers University – Newark, might be for you! Registration is now open for this third-annual public history event that puts the power back into the hands of the participants. The day is run on the fuel of your curiosity, professional or personal!

What is an unconference, you ask? It’s a conference with a theme, but no set speakers, panels, or prepared talks. You, the people, propose our topics and choose our sessions, whether they are discussion-based, problems to be solved, or sharing and discovering a niche tool in your field. What’s the catch, then? Sessions are given the final go-ahead by voting, so we welcome your most passionate reasoning on behalf of your favorite topic, and your fellow attendees will, too!

This conference is open to anyone. Public history professionals, librarians, lay historians, K-12 students, and others have all attended. The diversity of participation makes the day so much richer! A lively dialogue permeates the atmosphere, in person and on the digital mediums of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In the past, many attendees have left feeling refreshed, connected, inspired, and rejuvenated by the fusion of thinking, networking, and discovering they have done during this day-long unconference. And sitting still? Only if you have the willpower to resist the excited energy flowing between the rooms!

And that all sounds ideal, of course, but what exactly is “Telling Untold Histories”? What it says – uncovering and disseminating alternative historical narratives, sharing new voices from the past, and using untold histories to generate positive change in neighborhoods, cities and the country. This goal is far from abstract. Now more than ever, as issues of immigration, employment, economic opportunity, inequality, and health are being debated in the public and private spheres, it is critical that we make space to look at which narratives shape our national rhetoric and which go unheard. It is crucial that we examine the historical precedent for these discussions in a way that fosters contemporary activism. The Telling Untold Histories Steering Committee seeks to provide this space in an accessible, tangible way by tapping into the most powerful resource – the attendees themselves!

Additionally, there will be a few pre-planned workshops to ensure you get skill-building opportunities throughout the day. Radical archiving with Heather Hart, co-founder of the Black Lunch Table (BLT); institutional inclusivity with Museum Hue’s DEI consultant, Monica O. Montgomery; a peek into the digital music-mapping of Newark’s jazz history with musicologist Mia Tootill; engaging communities and making your museum (or archive, or collection, or historic site!) relevant; exploring OMEKA; and information literacy in our present public climate – all of these are up for your perusal during the day. You’ll walk away armed with plenty of ideas to bring back to your institution and your work.

Registration is $20, plus a small service fee. Register now on Eventbrite! And contact us with any questions or comments.

The Telling Untold Histories Unconference is generously sponsored by Ms. Dinean Robinson and the following organizations: NJ Historical Commission, NJ Council for the Humanities, Middlesex County Culture & Heritage Commission, LibraryLinkNJ, , Queer Newark Oral History Project, Rutgers University – Newark College of Arts & Sciences, Rutgers University – Newark Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities.

Call for proposals for MARAC spring 2018 conference in Hershey, PA

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference Spring meeting will be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania on April 12-14, 2018. The Program Committee for the Spring 2018 MARAC conference in Hershey, PA is now accepting proposals.
Proposals are due midnight, May 22, 2017

The theme of this meeting is “Finding the Sweet Spot: Communities, Collaboration, and the Archives” and the Program Committee is especially interested in proposals related to archival communities and collaborative efforts undertaken in any number of combinations.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Challenges and opportunities in undertaking collaborative projects (including case studies and/or professional experience)
  • The role of the Archives in any type of community (i.e. civic, organizational, institutional, special populations or identity groups, etc.)
  • Public/private partnerships (examples of successful or unsuccessful efforts)
  • Collaborative teams (working in them, results oriented, internal teams or external project groups)
  • Working with non-professionals, such as crowd-sourcing projects (approaches, tools, successful or unsuccessful efforts).
  • Collaborative project management (approaches, tools, case studies, etc.)
  • Communities of archivists (reflecting on organizations or experiences)
  • Collaborating with non-archivists and the challenges this might present (working with librarians, working with IT professionals, working with cross-professional teams in internal or external groups, communication challenges)
  • Archival ethics: privacy concerns, representavity of materials’ provenance vs. communities using them
  • Collaborating with different communities of researchers (i.e. strategies for working with different researcher communities to provide better service models)

Hershey, PA is also known as Chocolate Town, USA as well as the Sweetest Place on Earth and the program committee welcomes topics related to local history and industry. Possible topics include:

  • Food industry history/archives
  • Company towns
  • PA Industry and Labor History collections
  • Local history topics
  • Transformation of rural to industrial communities as documented by archives
  • Lower education (K-12) and the role of history and archives (Hershey Park, for example, attracts a lot of children)
  • Urban/suburban archives – accessibility by location (a central/western PA car-culture issue, possibly experienced where you live too?)

Finally, we are also interested in a variety of program types. Those presenters who have a presentation but no co-panelists can submit a single presentation (either lightening talk or classic 15-20 minute presentation) and be placed on a panel by the Program Committee. We are looking for presenters to come up with the following:

  • NEW* BOF’s: Birds-of-feather sessions might explore an archival topic/subject of interest to you, in which you would feel comfortable facilitating a discussion among your peers. For BOF sessions, you will be asked to provide a justification for why this topic may be of significance or relevance to the MARAC community. Also, describe what type of audience would be interested in the topic you propose. Facilitators will be expected to serve as discussion leaders and come prepared with a series of questions and discussion topics in order to ensure that participants get the most out of this session.
  • Debate: Find someone that you can have a civil argument with and show us how it’s done! You will be asked to identify the topic of the debate and give the name of a moderator for your session.
  • 15-20 minute paper/presentations: This classic conference presentation can be submitted as a group presentation (session) or an individual presentation which, upon acceptance, may be brought into a group session or used with other individually submitted presentations to make up a session block..
  • Lightning talks: 5-7 minute talks on a single topic. These can be submitted as a group presentation (with approximately 8-12 presenters identified), or submitted individually and brought into a lightening round.
  • Panel discussion: A group of people discuss a single topic and take audience questions. A moderator and panelists should be identified.

Submit your proposal to:

For more information or questions, please contact:
Déirdre Joyce at or
Jessica Wagner Webster at

MARAC letter of support for the CEU

April 3, 2017

Mr. Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3.

Dear Minister Balog,

As concerned citizens and archivists in United States, we are writing to express solidarity with Central European University and express concern at proposed legislative changes to CEU’s status in Hungary. These changes would endanger the academic freedom vital for CEU’s continued operation in Budapest and would strike a blow against the academic freedom that enables all universities, including those in Hungary, to flourish.

In twenty-five years, Central European University has established itself as a private international university with a global reputation for teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities. It attracts students from 117 countries and faculty from 40. The University as a whole is accredited by the US Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and its masters and doctoral programs are registered by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Its programs are also certified by appropriate Hungarian authorities and it has complied in full with all Hungarian laws.
In international rankings, some of CEU’s departments are rated among the top 50 in the world. CEU also makes Hungary a regional leader in winning highly competitive European Research Council grants. Several of its faculty, in fields as various as medieval studies, network and cognitive science, have won the most prestigious awards in their disciplines.

The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, an internationally known human rights archives dealing with the history (and afterlife) of communism and Cold War, and of human rights movements and violations worldwide is an organic part of CEU. The government’s proposed legislation to alter its statute of operation in Hungary would compromise these valuable collections, which are used by scholars around the world.

We respectfully urge the government to withdraw the proposed legislation and enter consultation with CEU, bearing in mind the damage such legislation might do to Hungary’s well-founded international academic reputation, to its relationships with its European partners and with the United States.

Yours sincerely,
Brian Keough, MARAC Chair

Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary;
Office of the Prime Minister;
Central European University