While at the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Silverman’s interest in the history of anthropology led her to become heavily involved in an effort to preserve anthropological records. In 1991, along with Dr. Nancy Parezo, she began planning a conference that would deal with the preservation of anthropology’s historical record. The conference, called "Preserving the Anthropological Record: Issues and Strategies," was held in spring 1992. Anthropologists, archaeologists, archivists, librarians, museum specialists, and potential funders met to identify the issues associated with preserving anthropological records. The conference attendees discussed the issues of records creation and use, ethical concerns, and the necessity of educating stakeholders.
In "Preserving the Anthropological Record," an article written about the conference for the February 1993 issue of Current Anthropology, Silverman described the Resolution on Preserving Anthropological Records that the conference adopted. The Resolution stated that "anthropologists have a professional responsibility to serve as stewards" of their "unpublished anthropological materials" because they are "irreplaceable" and "unique resources" that are "essential for future research and education." Anthropological records contain cultural information that is valuable to many different parties: the anthropologist who gathered the data, the informants who supplied the anthropologist with that data, other members of the informants’ community, or those who wish to study that community.
|Silverman Papers, Box 16, folder "Siena Notebooks [4 of 5]"|
Silverman unpublished notebook, cover
|Notes on Palio of Siena (a festival) Siena, Italy, 1980|
In May 1993, a second Wenner-Gren conference, "Preserving the Anthropological Record II: Toward a Disciplinary Center," was held to define an action plan. This conference led to the creation of CoPAR, the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records. According to the statement on its homepage, CoPAR "sponsors programs that foster awareness of the importance of preserving anthropological records; provides consulting and technical support to archival repositories; provides information on records location and access; and fosters collaboration between archivists responsible for anthropological collections and tribal archivists." For more information on CoPAR, and Sydel Silverman’s involvement in the movement to preserve anthropological records, visit the National Anthropological Archives website http://www.nmnh.si.edu/naa/.
|Sydel Silver Papers, Box 29, folder "April 1995, Reno, NV COPAR"|
Silverman is third from right in the front row
Christy Fic, Contract Processing Archivist
National Anthropological Archives