How are Archives-Related Agencies in the United States Representing “Social Justice” on their Websites Based on Political Leaning of the 50 States?

An Exploratory Content Analysis to Discern Propositions for Archival Education


  • Bharat Mehra EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice & Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama
  • Edwin S. Lee



archival education, exploratory website content analysis, political propositions, qualitatve evaluations


Contemporary archives-related agencies in the United States increasingly recognize the entrenched reality of archival work that has historically stayed privileged and biased while representing a semblance of neutrality (Society of American Archivists, 2020). Hence, today many call for rectifying the lapses of the past and a need to center social justice in their special collections, illustrated in a recent emergence of community archives, preservation literacy programs, community archives consulting programs, and co-stewardship efforts (Caswell et al., 2017; Caswell, Cifor, & Ramirez, 2016; Flinn, Stevens, & Shepherd, 2009; Liew, Goulding, & Nichol, 2020). How are major state archives-related agencies representing “social justice” on their websites to reflect this mandate and what its correlation with the political leaning of the state based on the national political elections since 2000? This qualitative evaluation explores answers in its application of website content analysis of seven information offerings in three categories that include (Mehra & Davis, 2015): information sources (collections, resources), information policy and planning (assigned role, strategic representation), and connections (internal, external, news and events). Mapping a taxonomy of social justice representations with illustrative promising practices and case examples are of value to archives-related agencies and others struggling with finding relevant and effective “how to’s” of operationalizing social justice actions during current politically turbulent times in ways that are deliberates, systematic, action-oriented, and community-engaged (Mehra, 2022). Implications of discerning propositions for archival education are also identified to bridge gaps between teaching, practice, social justice, impact, and political actions (Mehra & Winberry, 2021). 



Caswell, M., Migoni, A. A., Geraci, N., and Cifor, M. (2017). ‘To Be Able to Imagine Otherwise”: Community Archives and the Importance of Representation. Archives and Records 38 (1), 5-26. DOI:

Caswell, M., Cifor, M., and Ramirez, M. H. (2016). To Suddenly Discover Yourself Existing: Uncovering the Impact of Community Archives. American Archivist 79 (1), 56-81. DOI:

Flinn, A., Stevens, M., and Shepherd, E. (2009). Whose Memories, Whose Archives? Independent Community Archives, Autonomy and the Mainstream. Archival science 9 (1-2), 71-86. DOI:

Liew, C. L., Goulding, A., and Nichol, M. (2020). From Shoeboxes to Shared Spaces: Participatory Cultural Heritage via Digital Platforms. Information, Communication & Society 25 (9), 1293-1310. DOI:

Mehra, B. (ed.). (2022). Social Justice Design and Implementation in Library and Information Science. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. DOI:

Mehra, B., and Davis, R. (2015). A Strategic Diversity Manifesto for Public Libraries in the 21st Century. New Library World 116 (1/2), 15-36. DOI:

Mehra, B., and Winberry, J. (2021). “Politic” Talks to Address the Global Democracy Recession in Academic Libraries of the South: An Exploratory Website Analysis. In N. G. Taylor, K. Kettnich, U. Gorham, and P. T. Jaeger (eds.), Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy: Confronting Polarization, Misinformation, and Suppression (Advances in Librarianship: Vol. 50: November 2021) (pp. 183-210). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing. DOI:

Society of American Archivists. (2020). SAA Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics (Approved by the SAA Council, February 2005; revised, January 2012 and August 2020).






Works in Progress Posters