An invitation to invite others to meet ICA-SUV

This photograph captures my first experience with ICA-SUV.

V&A Dundee, Scotland (Photo: Ellen Engseth)

When I arrived at the 2019 conference site in Dundee, Scotland, I was a novice in regard to the organization, and had yet to meet a member or the conference attendees. I was interested in the group of course, and was excited to be there to present a paper. I was curious about this international group of archivists who, like me, worked with research or university archives. The initial event of the conference was a tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, itself an architectural piece of art. Designed by the Japanese firm Kengo Kuma & Associates, the waterfront building is meant to connect the city of Dundee with the River Tay and its maritime history, and reference the rich history of shipbuilding, maritime trade, and the textile industry. Seen here are the archivists who gathered outside the museum for our tour, and who are the first ICA-SUV archivists I met during the conference. This photo shows a portion of the museum with its neighbor, the ship RSS Discovery, built in Dundee and now residing there.

V&A Dundee, Scotland (Photo: Ellen Engseth)

During the next few days, I met many other new colleagues from around the world, and deepened my knowledge of the conference topic, appraisal, from various perspectives. And I became interested in how this organization ran, and what was involved with putting on an intentionally international conference. A few conversations and days later, a Bureau member approached me and suggested I consider joining the organization and becoming more involved. I very much appreciated this personal outreach, as it made me feel even more welcome or valued than I already did (the whole conference itself was very well run and friendly). This affirms to me what we often hear: personal invitation, outreach, and mentoring have real impact.

Many months later, I decided to join the organization and then to stand for election to be a member of the Bureau, the executive committee, on which I started serving this past year. As a new member of the committee, I am listening and learning, and participating where I can best contribute. I volunteer to organize and host the monthly reading group (please read another post about the reading group here). With a colleague in India and one in Germany, we choose readings or podcast/s, organize virtual meeting logistics, and then host the small, lively conversations. I appreciate the discussions with new colleagues around the world. These are friendly events, with space for all to join the conversation, and we welcome you to attend whenever convenient for you. We are also open to any suggestions for readings; please contact me at

I hope you feel as welcome to join in with the ICA-SUV as I did in Dundee. And as our 2021 conference next month is both is online and free, it is even easier to attend! I encourage you to consider who you might personally invite to join us there. Please see this link and watch our social media channels for more details on the conference, “Archives, Ethics and Society,” hosted in Germany by the EMBL Archive and the Archives of the University of Heidelberg from 28-30 July, 2021.

And I look forward to meeting you in person, someday soon. Until then, stay well, colleagues.

Ellen ENGSETH, Bureau Member of the ICA-SUV since 2020, lives and works on the traditional and contemporary land of the Dakota peoples, also known as Minnesota, U.S.A., and holds the position of Curator of Immigration History Research History Center Archives and Head, Migration and Social Services Collections in the University Libraries, University of Minnesota.

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