Friday, October 29, 2010

Minority Scholarship -- Archives

The General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church, the official archival agency for the denomination based in Madison, New Jersey, is pleased to announce the creation of the Josephine Forman Scholarship Award. The Archives will be partnering with the Society of American Archivists, based in Chicago, Illinois, to administer the Scholarship selection process. The Commission will award one scholarship of $10,000 annually to a minority student who is pursuing graduate education in archival science. “One of the long-term goals of the Commission,” says the Rev. Dr. Robert Williams, General Secretary of the Commission, “has been to increase diversity within the archival profession. Ms. Forman’s gracious gift has allowed us to reach this goal of providing a scholarship sooner than we had hoped.” The Society of American Archivists also is committed to increasing diversity and has been involved in a variety of measures to this end within the archives community.

The scholarship is named for Josephine Forman, archivist for eighteen years of the Southwest Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church and author of We Finish to Begin: A History of Travis Park United Methodist Church, 1846–1991. For United Methodists a Conference is a regional body of the denomination, similar to a diocese. Records from closed churches are kept there along with administrative records for the Conference. For many years Ms. Forman was also the Church Historian at Travis Park United Methodist Church in San Antonio. In the United Methodist polity the local Church Historian is responsible to ”keep the historical records up to date” and will ”provide an annual report on the care of church records and historical materials” and will ”provide, with the pastor . . . For the preservation of all local church records and historical materials no longer in current use.“ The position is a combination of historian and archivist. Ms. Forman had a vital interest in the history and records of her Conference and church. She was also committed to training and education for archivists and church historians.

Because of the gracious gift that Ms. Forman left in her will, the Commission was able to establish the Josephine Forman Scholarship. The scholarship is given to applicants who demonstrate excellent potential for scholastic and personal achievement and who manifest a commitment both to the archives profession and to advancing diversity concerns within it.

The applicant must be of American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander descent. The Commission’s partnership with the Society of American Archivists to form the selection committee allows a broad range of professionals to participate in the selection process. Ms. Forman’s gift ensures that this scholarship will be available for at least the next twenty years. “We hope that we will be able to find a way to continue this scholarship long after the initial twenty years,” says Williams.

Their website can be found at