The Game is Afoot! Digital Sleuthing at the Electronic Records Section/Museum Archives Section Mystery Workshop

By Christine Wang


Every archivist wears many different hats. Detective is not usually one of them, but at this year’s SAA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, museum archivists donned their deerstalkers for the day as they delved into a mystery workshop designed to introduce participants to principles and practices in managing born-digital records within an institution.  

“Find the Person: Missing Curator Mystery Edition!” led participants (cast as the project archivist at the fictional Three Hills Museum) through the curious case of lead curator and director Jane Stevens, who seems to have suddenly vanished, only leaving behind a mysterious set of files. Tasked with finding out just what had happened to Jane, participants sifted through her filesphotographs, text files, spreadsheets, and other various documentsto solve the mystery (spoiler alert: turns out Jane was perfectly fine, having simply rushed off to Russia in her excitement to examine a potential J.M.W. Turner painting). In the process, they grappled with questions not only about Jane and her whereabouts, but also about the organization, protection, and preservation of files like the ones they were examiningthat is, of digital archiving and records management in a professional setting.

Rachel Chatalbash and Susan Hernandez from the Museum Archives Section, and Ann Cooper, Wendy Hagenmaier, and Carol Kussmann from the Electronic Records Section planned the workshop based on Wendy’s 2014 workshop for the Society of Georgia Archivists. Wendy and Ann led the workshop for the Museum Archivists Section at the 2016 SAA meeting. The materials for the 2016 workshop covered topics and methods in personal digital archiving to support participants in working with a mixture of personal and archival digital records and boost participants confidence in working with digital material.

This year’s workshop revised and expanded upon the ideas of the original personal digital archiving workshop materials, applying them to the management and archiving of born-digital records in a museum environment. If you would like to view the materials from the workshop, follow the links to the Workshop Activity Instructions and Additional Resources.


Christine Wang is the Nancy Horton Bartels Scholar Intern at the Yale Center for British Art Institutional Archives.


bloggERS! has gone fishin’

We’re off to SAA! Will you be there too? Check out our list of ERS-recommended sessions on Sched.

If you can’t make it this year, then follow along on Twitter with #SAA16!

People fishing on Green Lake, circa 1950s. Item 31415, Ben Evans Recreation Program Collection (Record Series 5801-02), Seattle Municipal Archives


We’ll be back soon with recaps from recent conferences and plenty of other good stuff.


Annual meeting session recommendations, courtesy of ERS

Having trouble deciding between two tantalizing-looking sessions at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting this year? Looking for some recommendations that might tip the scales? Look no further!

The Electronic Records Section has produced a schedule for this year’s conference through its online scheduling tool, Sched. Now you can see the session that may be of interest to ERS members in one place.

The Electronic Records Section mega-schedule is available here.

See something we may have missed? Comment below or email bloggERS! at!


Electronic Records Section call for nominations

Election season is fast approaching, and the Electronic Records Section has some exciting opportunities for service, both in elected and appointed positions!

The ERS needs to elect a new Vice Chair/Chair Elect and 2 Steering Committee members. We are also looking for a volunteer to serve as Communications Liaison. All nominations must be received by June 1st!

Vice Chair/Chair Elect (1 position open)

The Vice Chair serves a 1-year term beginning immediately following the 2016 Annual Meeting. Their responsibilities are to assist the Chair in leading the section and representing the section in the absence of the Chair. Upon completion of the Vice Chair’s term, the Vice Chair assumes the position of Chair, at the conclusion of the incumbent Chair’s term. Upon completion of the 1-year term as Chair, he/she serves one final year as Past Chair.

Steering Committee (2 positions open)

Steering Committee members serve for a term of 3 years, beginning immediately following the 2016 Annual Meeting. Their responsibility is to assist the Chair and the Vice Chair in leading and organizing section activities.

Communication Liaison (1 position open)

The Communications Liaison facilitates communications between the Steering Committee and the Section membership and other audiences, including but not limited to the SAA microsite, electronic mailing list, blogs, social media, and other forms of online communication not yet in use by the Section. This role is open to all eligible Electronic Records Section members. The appointee will serve a renewable one-year term. Note that this role is appointed and not subject to election.

How can I nominate someone?

To nominate yourself or someone else, or to volunteer for appointment as Communication Liaison,  please send to Marty Gengenbach (martin[dot]gengenbach[at]gmail[dot]com):

  • the nominee/volunteer name,
  • contact information, and
  • position (Vice Chair/Chair Elect, Steering Committee, or Communication Liaison)

Important dates:

June 1All nominations must be received by this date. The steering committee will review and confirm nominations the following week.

June 15 – Candidate statements due.

July 1 – Supplemental information such as candidate photos or biographies due.

For more information on Electronic Records Section leadership, please see the ERS section bylaws.