Melissa Barthelemy, Doctoral Candidate Public History, UC Santa Barbara

Proposal Type


  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking Specific Expertise
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Archives
  • Material Culture
  • Memory

This session aims to provide insight and guidance to librarians, archivists, and professors who must develop their own unique response to unanticipated and unthinkable tragedies, such as school shootings. The panelists will discuss research and experiences managing condolence archives created after the violent rampage that occurred in Isla Vista, at the edge of the UC Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014. We are especially interested in projects that involve students in working with these emotionally sensitive materials. And intend to provide suggestions based on similar projects at other universities and communities.


We are interested in adding panelists who might have personal experience with managing condolence collections, or working with students who are handling emotionally sensitive materials. Archivists, professors, or even students who have first-hand experience.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Melissa Barthelemy, [email protected]

If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature below.

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.


  1. Modupe Labode says:

    Hi Melissa,

    This is such an important topic. I also like that it focuses on the impact of this work on people whose labor is often invisible. You might think about reaching out to Rainey Tisdale for two reasons. Tisdale curated the Boston Library’s exhibition about the Boston Marathon bombing and has given a lot of thought to the impact of that exhibition on visitors and those who worked on the exhibition while also living through the aftermath of the bombing. Tisdale is also involved with Active Collections (disclaimer–I am as well) and could also speak to you about what institutions are doing (or think that they’re doing) when they are collecting material in the aftermath of tragic events. Good luck!

  2. Thank you Modupe for your comment, sorry for the delay in my response. I just returned to California, after spending a week in Orlando documenting the one-year memorial anniversary efforts honoring the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. I was doing oral history interviews with the archivists who have been overseeing the One Orlando Collecting Initiative as well as city officials. I have also had a lot of contact with the folks at Virginia Tech. But, I haven’t spoken yet with Rainey Tisdale — though I know others who have worked on the archival collection for the Boston Marathon Bombing. I will reach out to Rainey and will follow up with you via email. Thanks.

  3. Celeste Wiley says:

    Hi Melissa –

    A colleague of mine suggested I reach out to you. I am the president of CALM (Charleston Archives, Libraries, and Museums council), we are a local group of library and museum professionals in Charleston, SC. I’ve been leading our group in working with the memorial materials (and particularly the condolence correspondence) from the Emanuel AME shooting. I would be interested in participating if you are still looking for panelists.

  4. Stacey Chandler says:

    Hi Melissa,

    We did a somewhat similar panel at the Society of American Archivists meeting in Atlanta last year ( I presented on the way our current archival work is affected by the initial collecting and later handling of mail Mrs. Kennedy received after JFK’s assassination, now housed at the JFK Library (part of the National Archives). I don’t think I can get to Las Vegas, but if I can help from afar let me know!

  5. Thank you so much Celeste, Stacey, and those who have recently emailed me directly. Sorry for the delay in my response. I will get back to you ASAP via email. Celeste and Stacey, I am familiar with both of these important sessions that took place at SAA (Society of American Archivists) last year — thank you for your incredible work! For anyone who happens to be reading this and is heading to the SAA Conference in Portland, Oregon at the end of this month I have also organized a panel on a similar topic that will be taking place there. There is definitely a LOT of interest and definite need regarding this topic right now, and there might actually be a benefit to having two interrelated panels (proposed) for the NCPH Conference, similarly to how there were these two complimentary panels at SAA that you have described above. You have me thinking…I’ll be in touch again soon.

  6. Thanks again to everyone who has contacted me regarding this topic proposal. Since today is the last day when it is possible to post comments I just thought I would leave a message here to let folks know that we will be proceeding with one panel proposal, and there is definitely enough interest to form a second session proposal on a related topic. I am encouraging some folks to step-up and organize this second panel which could potentially focus on exhibiting sensitive materials from condolence collections, and/or working with families and friends of victims, survivors, and impacted community members. (Just two of the ideas we have discussed). We are hoping that there will be a core number of us working through some of these topics and issues at NCPH. We are continuing to develop a support network and more resources in this area. If you or your colleagues have an interest in this area, whether or not you are able to attend NCPH, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or visit my Department Profile at

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