Archives as Storytellers

by Joanna Poses

Abstract: This presentation will explore archival materials from the 1950s that document an international programme run by the American Friends Service Committee. This Quaker organization offered young people the opportunity to serve urban and rural communities through its work camp programme, which explicitly sought to bring diverse groups of people together. A film about the programme, This Way Out, raises questions that challenge what we know and imagine about history. What are the responsibilities and possibilities for archivists if we want to claim history as a source of inspiration? To what extent is an archivist responsible for helping to make meaning out of materials that contradict what we think we know about our history?

Joanna Poses is currently an intern in the archives at Democracy Now! She previously worked as a Consultant Film Archivist with the audio-visual collections at the American Friends Service Committee and as an intern in the Collections Department at the Nederlands Filmmuseum (now EYE). She is a P&P graduate and also holds a BFA in Cinema Studies from New York University.