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Statement on Language in Ransom Center Descriptive Records

The Harry Ransom Center aims to describe collection materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in its holdings. The Center's cataloging departments follow standards and guidelines recognized by the American Library Association, the Society of American Archivists, and the American Alliance of Museums. Despite these efforts, users may encounter offensive or harmful language in the Center's descriptive records, such as terminology or language that is racist, sexist, outdated, or exclusionary. In some instances, this language was used by the people and organizations that created the material or by outside sources describing materials prior to acquisition by the Center. In other cases, past practices and language used by Ransom Center staff was not or is no longer appropriate. The Center recognizes that descriptive practices and terminology evolve over time and that efforts to create respectful and inclusive description must be ongoing. The Center encourages users to provide feedback to support these actions. Please contact the Center if you encounter concerning or inaccurate descriptions by notifying Ransom Center staff at Staff will review the description and determine what updates or changes are available. Revisions may include providing additional context and/or replacing problematic terminology.

The Ransom Center recognizes the following resources in efforts to remove harmful descriptive language:

Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia Anti-Racist Description Working Group. “Anti-Racist Description Resources.” Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia. October 2019.

Michelle Caswell, “Teaching to Dismantle White Supremacy in Archives,” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 87, no. 3, July 2017.

Society of American Archivists. “Statement of Principles” Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).

Temple University Libraries. “SCRC Statement on Potentially Harmful Language in Archival Description and Cataloging

Princeton University Library Special Collections “Statement on Language in Archival Description

University of Colorado Boulder University Libraries “Statement on Potentially Harmful Language in Archival Description