Bath & Colonialism
Guidance on language
Guidance on language in archive description
The Bath Chronicle newspaper articles researched in the project contain racist language and some distressing content, including descriptions of violence and exploitation of Black people. We recognised a need to create protocols for description when recording these articles, as well as training to enable staff and volunteers to discuss our racist legacies with honesty and openness, guided by members of Black communities whose voices must lead any discussion of injustice and inequality.
The resulting document Finding the Words uses example articles from the Bath Chronicle as case studies for things to consider and think about when writing descriptions for archive and source material that includes racist language and distressing content.
It invites colleagues to pause and consider the implications derogatory language has on how archival material has been positioned, shared and ultimately valued, both in the past and at present. It is by no means an exhaustive study, but we hope that it can contribute to guidance and learning for archivists, cataloguers, researchers, historians and volunteers.