Amnesty International USA Archives Project
In 1994 a dedicated effort was launched to collect, preserve, and make known the history and activities of Amnesty International-USA (AIUSA). Today the AIUSA Archive is a collection of over 3,000 linear feet of material that documents the founding, growth, and activities of AIUSA from the early 1960s through today. The collection is part of the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR), the official designated repository for the archives of major human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the Committee of Concerned Scientists. CHRDR enhances the visibility and accessibility of these collections through programming, collaborative projects, and library services.
AIUSA Archives: A Brief History:
In 1992, Bruce Montgomery, faculty director of the archives at University of Colorado, approached AIUSA's Urgent Action Program staff in Colorado with the idea of beginning a substantial and comprehensive human rights collection; he called it the Human Rights Initiative. The AIUSA board okayed the AIUSA Archives Project; board members, local group members and activists, the International Secretariat, and AIUSA staff discussed the benefits of archiving, and collecting materials began in 1994. On the strength of HRI containing the AIUSA Archives, many small and large human rights NGOs and individuals deposited their materials at HRI at the University of Colorado-Boulder, creating the world's pre-eminent human rights archives. After an AAAC meeting in 1999 at CU-B, the AAAC learned that University of Colorado officials had determined that HRI no longer fit within the Universitiy's priorities or resources and therefore had to be relocated to a new institutional home. As a result, the major affiliated organizations of HRI began searching for a new university which would serve to fulfill the original vision and mission of HRI to establish an international documentation center to preserve and make digitally accessible the global legacy of the human rights movement. Columbia University was selected after extensive communication with over a dozen possible institutions.
What's in the AIUSA Archives?
The AIUSA Archives is comprised of a variety of materials that document the work of the New York headquarters; the Washington, DC lobby office, regional offices, local and student chapters; as well as all programs, committees, and departments of AIUSA. Also documented is the work of country coordination specialists and members of steering committees and task forces. Correspondence, memoranda, organizational-bylaws, meeting minutes, newsletters, brochures and fliers, reports, photographs, audio/visual materials, oral histories, and memorabilia make up the bulk of the Archive.
How may I donate AIUSA material?
All individuals who wish to submit material are asked NOT to submit material without first contacting Susan Hamson, Curator of Manuscripts and University Archivist at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University. You will be provided with the instructions and paperwork necessary to add your material to the AIUSA Archive. Material received without first contacting the Curator will be returned.
How To Access AIUSA Human Rights Materials:
At the present time the National Office Records are available for research. Material continues to be prepared for public access. Finding aids for all human rights collections may be accessed by keyword search in the Columbia University Libraries Archival Collections Portal. Unless clearly marked as restricted in the finding aid, material is available for public access. Permission to quote or publish materials from the AIUSA Archives must be requested in writing from Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Executive Director of AIUSA Peter W. Farnsworth.
How To Deposit AIUSA Human Rights Materials:
Since the Human Rights Initiative is in transition, an AIUSA human rights activist should wait to send archival materials to the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research until late 2006, when Columbia University has the remodelled space to accommodate more AIUSA materials. If it becomes impossible to hold materials until late 2006, please contact Ellen Moore at 303.258.7886 to make temporary deposit arrangements. The AIUSA Archives contains many written, audio, and video histories of activists. If you'd like your experience and opinions to be a part of the AIUSA Archives, please download the AIUSA Archives Questionnaire (In PDF), and mail, email, or fax it to Ellen V. Moore (contact information below).
What to Save for Deposit in the AIUSA Archives.
Individual activists, AI groups, and AIUSA board members, volunteer leaders, and staff should seek to retain materials that document their major operations, activities, and policy decisions. These might include, for example, meeting minutes, organizational by-laws, policy memorandums, documents detailing major decisions, investigative reports and publications, correspondence, development/donor materials, press clippings, promotional materials: brochures, fliers, and case materials, photographs and videotape, posters and t-shirts, documents regarding internal deliberations and debates, interactions and networking with other domestic and international organizations.
What is the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR) at Columbia University's Butler Library?
By Spring of 2006, the CHRDR will feature Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, and Human Rights First as its cornerstone human rights collections, a professional archiving staff, twice yearly meetings of depositor representatives as part of a center-wide planning process, as well as unspecified human rights events, activities, fora, and institutes. The AIUSA Archives Advisory Committee will be fully involved in contributing to center planning and functioning as well as in collection and fund-raising efforts that support and enhance the AIUSA Archives.
Members of the AIUSA Archives Advisory Committee
Committee Chair: Bill Harris
Consultant: Wendy Wong
Board Liaison: TBA
Staff Liaison: TBA