Andrew Garrett: Archives

Andrew Garrett, Leanne Hinton, and Wallace Chafe, 2011

with Tamara Alexander, Julian Lang, Nancy Richardson Steele, LuLu Alexander, Crystal Richardson, and Brittany Vigil-Burbank, Karuk and Yurok participants at the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous California Languages, 2018 (photo by Scott Braley)

Julia Nee, Zach O'Hagan, Edwin Ko, Andrew Garrett, 2018

the Survey media archive, with research assistants Julia Nee, Zach O'Hagan, and Edwin Ko, 2018

Early in my career, most of my research made use of language material (from Hittite and other early Indo-European languages) that has survived for over three thousand years. This made me appreciate the importance of long-term preservation! Today, this can mean responsibly archiving linguistic materials — with clear and helpful metadata, and in a permanent repository — and supporting all the work of language archives. The evanescence of analytic work means, for many linguists involved in language documentation, that their most important academic creations will be their archived notes, recordings, and supporting materials.

Survey of California and Other Indian Languages

I direct the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, which supports endangered-language fieldwork projects and houses an extensive physical archive of documentary materials collected since the 1950s (and earlier). The Survey holds materials from California, from throughout the US and Canada, and from Central and South Ameria, and works with the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival on the biennial Breath of Life Archival Institute.

In collaboration with Ronald Sprouse and many graduate students (especially Amy Campbell, Hannah Haynie, Justin Spence, John Sylak-Glassman, and Maziar Toosarvandani), I supervised the development of a new catalog and online archive for indigenous languages of California, western North America, and the western hemisphere. The California Language Archive (CLA) includes full collection information and digital content (audio and scanned manuscript images) from the Survey, the Berkeley Language Center, and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, as well as some items from the Bancroft Library. The CLA is one of the largest language archives in the western hemisphere, with over 19,000 catalog items in 456 collections associated with over 450 languages. Each catalog item indexes a physical folder or box, a digital file bundle, or both; digital file bundles contain about 32,500 digital files in all. In the CLA you can see the full range of collections at our Collections page, or through our map interface.

Recent and future Survey projects include the following:

Wax cylinder recordings • We are nearly done with a three-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation, to create new digital audio files from about three thousand early-twentieth-century wax cylinder recordings held by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. This project, "Linguistic and ethnographic sound recordings from early twentieth-century California: Optical scanning, digitization, and access", has been a collaboration involving the Hearst Museum, the Survey, the University Library, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where an innovative technique of non-invasive optical scanning was developed by Carl Haber. An informative video about this work was produced by the National Science Foundation: "Rare audio of indigenous languages saved by invention 100 years later" (Science Nation, August 7, 2017). For recent news articles see also Anne Brice, "For Native American student, reclaiming his culture began at Berkeley" (Berkeley News, June 5, 2018); and Virgie Hoban, "Project IRENE: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Library unite to save Native American voices" (Berkeley Library News, June 19, 2018). Most recordings are only available on request, due to cultural sensitivities, but you can immediately listen to four Salinan cylinder recordings made by Pedro Encinales with J. Alden Mason in this small collection.

Margaret Langdon notes and recordings • In 2019, we hope to begin digitizing, describing, and accessioning a very large set of materials given to UC Berkeley by the Belgian-born Yumanist Margaret Langdon (UC San Diego), with additional materials from a few of her students. This project will involve hundreds of sound recordings and dozens of field notebooks. Some of Langdon's material is in the Bancroft Library, where it has been cataloged but not digitized or described in detail; some is in the Survey, where it remains unaccessioned.

Other initiatives

At different times I've contributed to the following:

DELAMAN • For a few years I represented the CLA on the board of the Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network, an international consortium of language archives whose goals include the dissemination of information about archives and good archival practices.

SSILA Archiving Award • In 2018 I chaired the committee to select the recipient of the first annual Archiving Award of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas: Joel Sherzer (University of Texas at Austin).

Working group on archives • In 2018-19, I co-chaired a Berkeley working group that wrote a report with recommendations about campus archives, libraries, and museum collections relating to Native American people, and how we can be more accessible, open, and transparent to indigenous communities, more responsive to Native people's interests and needs, and more collaborative in curating cultural heritage materials.