Archivist Spotlight: Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections (University of Texas at Austin)


Please give a brief introduction of yourself and your interests in Latin American and Caribbean cultural heritage archives.

My name is Rachel E. Winston—I am a graduate of Davidson College (Anthropology and French), the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and The University of Texas at Austin (MSIS). Throughout my educational and professional career, I’ve been passionate about representation and access within cultural institutions and in community programming initiatives. As an archivist, I’m interested in the ways in which people of color are represented, described and preserved in our institutions, and further, dismantling imposed barriers to access for these kinds of materials.

You recently started in the newly created Black Diaspora Archivist position at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin. Tell us a little bit about the new role and your goals for collecting and establishing the Black Diaspora archive.

The Black Diaspora Archive is a collaborative initiative between UT Libraries, Black Studies and LLILAS Benson. In my role as Black Diaspora Archivist, I’m leading the university’s effort in developing a special collection that documents the Black experience throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.  One of the things I’m most excited about is being able to highlight the experiences and works of people of color as told/documented by they themselves—there’s a huge void in this space.  I’m especially grateful to be doing this work at LLILAS Benson where there is real concern for ethical collecting, social justice and post-custodial archival practice.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career? Any advice to fellow new professionals?

Getting this job! In a lot of ways, I was preparing myself for this position before it even existed and I’m looking forward the achievements the Black Diaspora Archive will make in the years to come. To those who are committed to countering or changing the narrative and creating space for others in our field—stay encouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

More on the New Archives Law in Mexico

by Margarita Vargas

As a consequence of the activism of historians and library science professionals, the law will not be presented to the Mexican Senate during the next period of sessions. This gives time for more work, analysis, and proposals. The objective is to have a law that allows transparency and unrestricted access to archives. This way, the law will give way to an inclusive and plural historic memory. To achieve this, the Board of the Mexican Committee of Historic Sciences asks historians to continue the activism against the current initiative:

Por el Derecho a la Memoria (For the Right of Historic Memory)

Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, International Archives Affairs Section

In past weeks, Mexican scholars, archivists, and LIS professionals have organized forums and issued declarations to make known their discontent with the new General Law of Archives that was presented to the Mexican Senate on November 17, 2016. This new law would supersede the Federal Archives Law which has been in place since 2012. Why is this new law troublesome?

The new law proposes the creation of a Ruling Council of the National Archives System. The Council would be under the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior. The law also states that the president of the country would designate the Director of Mexico’s National Archives. These provisions take away the technical and administrative autonomy of the National Archives and the National System of Archives, and thus eliminate the checks and balances that such institutions should provide.

Although this law is supposed to guarantee transparency, it does not guarantee access to public and historic records. For this reason, scholars and LIS professionals request that the new law sets standards to regulate the transfer of government records to the National Archives and to prevent the restriction of access, the deaccession, or the destruction of such records.

Enrique Chmelnik, President of the Association of Mexican Private Archives and Libraries (AMABPAC) and Director of the Center of Documentation and Research of the Jewish Communities in Mexico (CDIJUM) participated at the SAA’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Atlanta. There he explained two concerns that Mexican private LIS institutions have about the new law. The first is that the new law did not set up a democratic procedure to select the representative of private archives and libraries to the Ruling Council of the National Archives System. The second is that the new law gives the Mexican state the power to expropriate private archives, but does not set up a transparent and accountable way to exert such power, such as the creation of interdisciplinary and autonomous councils that might supervise and advise on the expropriation.

On November 28, 2016, scholars and LIS professionals met with the Mexican senate to discuss the new law. They demanded that the new law be modified to meet the needs for transparency, access to information, and accountability. These needs are especially urgent because in the last years, human rights have been constantly violated in Mexico.

For the petition by scholars and LIS professionals see:

For a summary of the meeting see:

For Enrique Chmelnik’s petition to the Mexican senate see:

New Law of Archives in Mexico

by: Margarita Vargas, originally posted on SAA’s International Archives and Archivists blog.

Mexico holds the 4th International Seminar on Transparency and Record Keeping Nov. 16, 17, and 18 in the midst of the controversy over the new law of archives in Mexico. In La Jornada newspaper, Soledad Loaeza explains that this new law has been drafted by politicians who have not taken into consideration  LIS professionals or historians. Their intention seems to be censorship. This coincides with the increasing restriction of the materials that researchers can use at the Archivo General de la Nación. This censorship has been justified by the need to protect personal information, but it does not follow an established policy or procedure. For Spanish readers: the text of the law that the Mexican senate is reviewing is here.

Update on Archives in Mexico

Dear Lachistas,

We are lending our support to fellow Mexican archivists and library professionals by making public a collective letter they composed to raise awareness about a governmental reform that seeks to control access and transparency of archival repositories. This reform threatens the humanistic mission of the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN) with budget cuts of 78%; more worrisome, the AGN’s will be placed under the supervision of the Secretaria de Gobernación which might potentially lead to censorship. As Enrique Chmelnik discussed in our annual meeting in Atlanta, the reform will also undermine private archives. Given the violence, constant violation of human rights, lack of accountability, and lack of transparency, this is not a positive picture.


Ana Rodriguez, LACCHA co-chair

Link to open letter from Mexican archivists:

SAA 2016 Roundtable Agenda

Wednesday August 3, 2016 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Salon E Hilton Atlanta, 255 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

6:00-6:10              Welcome + words from our Council Liaison, Kris Kiesling

6:15-6:40              Chair report

6:45-7:00              Enrique Chmelnik will give a presentation on Mexico’s new laws regulating archives and how those laws affect private archives and libraries, such as CDIJUM.

7:00-7:15              Q&A for Enrique

(Enrique Chmelnik will also participate in the Diversity Forum: Thursday August 4, 2016 12:15pm – 1:30pm Salon E Hilton Atlanta, 255 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303.)

Enrique Chmelnik to Speak at SAA Annual Meeting

The LACCHA Roundtable meeting at the annual meeting this year will be on Wednesday, August 3, 6″00-7:30 pm, at Salon E at the Hilton Atlanta. The program will feature  Enrique Chmelnik, President of the Association of Mexican Private Archives and Libraries (AMABPAC) and Director of the Center of Documentation and Research of the Jewish Communities in Mexico (CDIJUM). LACCHA was able to secure funding from SAA to bring Chmelnik to the meeting.

Chmelnik will also participate in the Diversity Forum: Thursday August 4, 2016 12:15pm – 1:30pm Salon E Hilton Atlanta.

Mtro. Enrique Chmelnik Lubinsky

Enrique Chmelnik Lubinsky was born in Mexico City on January 28, 1978. He got a B.A. in Journalism at the renowned school of journalism Escuela Carlos Septién García, and an M.A. in Philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Since 2004, he is the presenter of the radio Chmelnik2program El Aleph: la voz judía de la radio (The Aleph, the Jewish Voice on Radio) at the radio station Radio Red from Grupo Radio Centro, the most renowned Mexican radio station. He is the Director of the Centro de Documentación e Investigación Judío de México (Center of Documentation and Research of the Jewish Community in Mexico), previously known as Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Comunidad Ashkenazí (Center of Documentation and Research of the Ashkenazi Community in Mexico). In addition, he is the current President of the Asociación Mexicana de Archivos y Bibliotecas Privados A.C. (Mexican Association of the Private Archives and Libraries), Member of the Executive Board of the Mexican Committee of Memory of the World (MOW), UNESCO, and Member of the Scholarly Board of Advisors of Mexico’s National Archives (AGN).

Chmelnik has worked in Editorial Mapas, the newspaper El Independiente, Once TV, and the Museum of Memory and Tolerance. He has given lectures on philosophy and history in Mexican and US universities, such as the Universidad Tecnológica de México, Universidad La Salle, the University of California (Irvine), and the University of New Mexico. At the K-12 level, he has taught history and contemporary thought, and has led workshops in Centers of Social Readaptation as well as in the cultural programs of Mexico City’s Commission of Human Rights.

Finally, he has published articles, chapters, and introductions in history and philosophy books, such as the Guía Mexicana de Archivos y Bibliotecas Privados and the essay anthology Levinas confrontado.

He obtained the Award of the Instituto Cultural México-Israel in 2014.



Archivist Spotlight: Ana Rodríguez, MLIS, MA, Archival Assistant at the University of Florida Smathers Libraries

Ana Rodríguez is currently on the LACCHA steering committee.

Tell us about your career. What position do you hold now, and what position(s) have you held prior?

For the past seventeen years I have been involved with learning environments such as art collections, museums, and libraries. These combined experiences have allowed me to acquire a knowledge base in the areas of art documentation, exhibits preparation, description of archival visual materials, and various aspects of special collections librarianship. My knowledge of Spanish language and Latin American and Caribbean arts and culture has been the nexus of all my working experiences.

My journey started in Puerto Rico where I worked for almost five years at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), a local government agency responsible for disseminating and preserving the cultural heritage of the island. At the ICP I held the position of assistant registrar, which for somebody like me whose undergraduate major was art history meant the world. The job itself was very much an intensive course of Puerto Rican art history; I spent my days registering incoming acquisitions such as paintings and graphic prints, supervising the transit of loaned artwork, or visiting La Fortaleza, the official residence of the governor, to conduct inventory and condition reports of paintings and sculptures. It was a dream to work at the ICP but soon enough professional and personal aspirations took me to relocate to Miami, Florida in late 2003.

Continue reading

SAA Annual Meeting Schedule

The SAA Annual Meeting Schedule is live, and accessible at and

Whether you are attending or will be following along on twitter, here is a list of events of interest to LACCHA. Please add any other SAA or related activities of interest in the comments.

  • Committee Meetings:
    SAA Diversity Committee (1-3pm)
  • Roundtables:
    Human Rights Archives Roundtable meeting (Wed 4-5:30 pm)
    Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable meeting (Wed 6-7:30 pm)
    LACCHA Roundtable meeting (Wed 6-7:30 pm)
    International Archival Affairs Roundtable meeting (Fri 7:30-9 am)
  • Brown bag Forums:
    Diversity Committee forum (Thurs 12:15-1:30)
    The American Archivist Article discussion (Thurs 12:15-1:30)
  • Sessions:
    A Year in the Clouds: Itinerant Archivists Pilot Trip to Ecuador (#507 Fri 3-4pm)
    Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me: Displaced Records Go Home (#604 Sat 9-10:15 am)



Invitation to Webinar: Desmantelando Fronteras / Breaking Down Borders



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Están cordialmente invitados al próximo webinar de la serie Desmantelando Fronteras/Breaking Down Borders. Los expositores invitados son del equipo de la organización mexicana, Apoyo al Desarrollo de Archivos y Bibliotecas de México (ADABI) y hablarán sobre la organización de ADABI y su labor en el rescate del patrimonio documental de México a través de un proyecto multidisciplinario.

El evento es en español y se llevará a cabo el viernes, 1º de abril, 2016 a las siguientes horas locales:

  • EEUU 14:00 horas EST / 13:00 CST / 11:00 PST
  • México D.F. / Honduras 12:00 horas
  • Quito / Bogotá / Lima 13:00 horas
  • Buenos Aires/Santiago 15:00 horas
  • Caracas 13:30 horas

You are cordially invited to the next installment in the Desmantelando Fronteras/Breaking Down Borders webinar series. This event will feature speakers from the Mexican organization, Apoyo al Desarrollo de Archivos y Bibliotecas de México (ADABI). Speakers will present about the history and activities of ADABI and an example of an archival recovery project in which the three departments of ADABI were involved.