The Heart of It
“Maybe my passion is nothing special, but at least it’s mine.”
― Tove Jansson,
My personal approach to making sense of history and the world around us is audiovisual and interdisciplinary. American Studies enriched my understanding of our visual cultural which, and, in turn, helped me immensely as a professional trained audiovisual archivist (itself combining film and television history, women’s studies, information studies and archival practice). Imagine how nearly impossible it’s been to keep the amazing audiovisual primary documents I’ve worked with to myself. Consequently, I’ve spent some time evaluating the evidentiary value of archival audiovisual documents and promoting them to laymen, fellow practitioners, and media scholars through exhibition, research, presentations, and other such creative endeavors. My goal now is to reach out to disciplines beyond film and media studies — students and scholars in other disciplines, as well as exhibit curators, filmmakers, collectors artists, and the general public. I employ methodologies that fall loosely (for now) under the umbrella of digital humanities, and so, I circle back to an interdisciplinary approach that comes so natural to me.
In November of 2016 I joined the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ Board of Directors, and hope to be of much service to the membership and the association’s overall future-facing needs.
I am delighted to have joined UNC’s Southern Oral History Program this 2017-2018 academic year as a field scholar at Center for the Study of the American South. During the 2016-2017 academic year I was both a Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative Graduate Recruitment Fellow embedded in the Davis Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a member on the Community Histories Workshop team at UNC which aims to “develop and test innovative models for community engaged digital public history and humanities that benefit local communities (broadly defined) and advance UNC’s institutional mission and priorities.” I’ve also been grateful for the cheerful support and fellowship of the Initiative for Minority Excellence.
Scholarly projects include “Show Your Work” where I employ video annotation tools to facilitate documentation of archival labor and citation of audiovisual primary materials in evidentiary works; and my dissertation topic explores distant and close analysis of a mid-20th century semi-fictional women’s travel director for Shell Oil.
Experience & Education
Ph.D. student in American Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Concentration: Nonfiction Media & Digital Humanities.
M.A. in Moving Image Archive Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and my B.A. in American Studies (Visual Studies/Art Practice) from the University of California, Berkeley.
I trained as an audiovisual archivist and cataloguer; but have combined professional development with other creative skills. I co-developed and implemented this exhibit and related film screening about on Raleigh-based nontheatrical filmmaker O.B. Garris at North Carolina State University (NCSU); and co-taught a graduate seminar “Film and the Archive” at NCSU that covered a history of media archives and research skills. For over five years I was an audiovisual archivist/cataloguer at The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America at Harvard University, where I processed audiovisual collections; chaired and co-programmed a yearly film series; curated audiovisual kiosks for exhibits; and more. I’ve developed other online exhibits for the Southern Oral History Program, and at UNC instruct students on how to do archival research and implement high-quality exhibits.
95% of the audiovisual materials I have processed or researched have been unpublished, non-fiction or non-theatrical (home movies, oral histories, event coverage, interviews, and advertising.)
Reaching back fourteen years in the field, I worked for Discovery Communications as a Library Information Specialist (mostly involving technical metadata and traffic coordination), the Women In Film Foundation in Los Angeles as a fellow, and have interned or volunteered as a descriptive cataloguer, collections processor, curator, and researcher for a number of archives including the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Academy Film Archive, the Pacific Film Archive, and the State Archives of North Carolina.
I have also presented at numerous conferences and symposia on issues encompassing improving access to moving image materials, public/cable access television history, Century Film Studios (Raleigh), women in advertising, and women’s history in America generally. I have published short pieces in the journal, The Moving Image, and a chapter on privacy and home movies in book Amateur Movie Making: Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England, 1915-1960. orcid.org/0000-0002-0852-5499
For more specifics see Professional Experience and more via the menu above.
“Popular perception looks for simplicity. Hence, the archivist is the person who looks after archives, retrieving the papers or files. The librarian is the person behind the loans desk or putting books on the shelves. The sound archivist or film archivist does not yet, perhaps, present so obvious or distinctive an image.” — Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles, Ray Edmondson, UNESCO report, 2004
CONTACT: msdollman [at] gmail.com