The CU Boulder Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections aims to describe archival materials in a way that is respectful to all communities who use, create, and are represented in our collections. We also strive to provide descriptive context for collections where possible. However, the nature of historical materials is such that some material may represent positions, language, values, and stereotypes that are not consistent with the current values and practices at CU Boulder Libraries.
Within our finding aids, for many reasons it is possible users may encounter language that is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise harmful. While some language included in finding aids was written by staff, other language originates from the people and organizations that created the material. For example, folder titles are often preserved from the creators. It is standard practice not to change them and, in some cases, it provides important context about the materials. When we find problematic language created by archivists and staff we strive to update it. When we find problematic language from the original creator we will transcribe as is to preserve the context of its creation. However, we will also include descriptive notes to explain the context and decision making behind the presence of problematic language in finding aids.
Archivists at CU Boulder Libraries are currently implementing practices to address offensive or harmful language as part of description work. With thousands of finding aids this process will take time. We encourage users to provide feedback to help us address this issue and understand that we may not always get it right. We recognize that terminology evolves over time and that efforts to create respectful and inclusive descriptions will be ongoing. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to alert us of any offensive or problematic descriptions. We will update it in a way that balances the effects of harmful language with the preservation of the original context of the materials.