FRONT ROW: Bro. Hilaire Raharilalao (Archivist of the Brothers’ international HQ in Rome); Bro. Emmet Sinitiere (Archivist, Legacy New Orleans-Santa Fe District); Amy Surak (Archivist of Manhattan College and of the Legacy NY, LI-NE, and Midwest Districts and Co-Archivist of District of Eastern North America [DENA]); and Jennifer Sturm (Archivist, San Francisco-New Orleans District). BACK ROW: Bro. Robert Wilsbach, Asst. Archivist, DENA; Mr. Alex Palma (Digital Assistant, DENA); Bro. Joe Grabenstein (Archivist, Legacy Baltimore District and Co-Archivist of DENA); and Bro. Diego Munoz, Secretary of Lasallian Research and Resources at Brothers’ international HQ, Rome). Photo by Dan Nguyen, courtesy – La Salle University

Philadelphia, PA – The annual conference of the De La Salle Regional Archivists Association (DLSRAA) met at La Salle University and was hosted by Bro. Joe Grabenstein.  It ran from Tues, Oct. 23 through Thurs, Oct. 25 with many diverse topics covered.  An official report will be submitted, after all attendees review it, in about 2 weeks.

In 1990, when computers were an innovative and novel feature, each District sent its Archivist to Memphis for the first-ever conference of the new DLSRAA. These men, and, in time, joined by women, have been meeting almost yearly ever since. The most pivotal topic covered was the unanimous agreement to work in collaboration for the digital interconnectivity of the America’s Lasallian archives, and eventually to link their holdings and resources with every archives in the Lasallian world. Propelling this agreement are two main factors. One is the desire of Br. Robert Schieler (Superior General, and history major/graduate of La Salle University) to publicize the life and legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the rich history of the Institute. The other is quite timely: The 300th anniversary of the death of De La Salle (April 1719) will be observed with events and various displays (physical and digital) beginning November 2018 until November 2019.

The archivists’ meeting at La Salle this month was poignant because of two of its participants. One was Br. Hilaire Raharilalao, a Madagascar native who is the Institute Archivist, headquartered in Rome. For the first time ever, the Institute Archivist attended sessions of the DLSRAA. Br. Diego Munoz (Secretary of Lasallian Research and Resources in Rome) similarly traveled to Philadelphia to articulate the need for all Lasallian archivists to collaborate digitally and to promote interest in and research of Lasalliana.

The archivists also took time from their sessions for opportunities for association. A tour of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the new Museum of the American Revolution, along with lunch at The Bourse with its unique array of vendors, including “classic” cheesesteaks. All of this was appropriately capped by a memorable history horse-and-carriage ride in Old City, courtesy of Bro. Joe.

The Brothers and partners of DENA have reason to be proud of their archivists and assistants. Amy Surak’s work in the Manhattan College Archives and in the collections of Legacy New York, Legacy Long Island-New England, and Midwest Districts has earned acclaim for her digitizing and sharing of this vast amount of material. Br. Joe Grabenstein’s collection of Legacy Baltimore records grows steadily, and he notes that he has had over 80 research requests since June 1, 2018 alone, with no slowdown in sight!

As a recent speaker noted, any archivist can be considered as the “Chief Memory Officer” of an organization. Clearly, with a highly successful conference accomplished in Philadelphia, there is a “future” in history! Underscoring this very point, the U.S. archivists resolved at their meeting to convene in Rome next year—to extend their collaboration to the very heart of the Institute.

To learn more about the work of the District Archives, make requests, or view monthly and even daily Lasallian history selections, visit the Archives section of our DENA website >