History of the Foundation

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stacks of papersThe Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records (CoPAR) was born of a concern, shared by a group of scholars within the anthropological community, for the survival of the historical records of the discipline. This concern became the primary motivation and driving force behind the creation of a nonprofit organization to encourage anthropological organizations and individual scholars to work together, in cooperation with the archival and information-science communities, to preserve the records of anthropological research.

The project began with a casual conversation between then Wenner-Gren President, Sydel Silverman, and Nancy Parezo, an anthropologist and discipline historian at the University of Arizona.  Discovering  that each had become aware of threats to the survival of the historical records of anthropology, they decided to organize a two-day workshop to informally assess the situation.  As they developed an agenda in subsequent discussions, the workshop rapidly grew into a full-scale Wenner-Gren symposium, which was held in early 1992.  By the time the symposium ended, it had become clear that what was needed was a long-term effort, both on the part of the Foundation (which went on to sponsor several additional conferences and workshops on behalf of CoPAR) and on the part of the discipline as a whole.

The Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records sponsors programs that foster awareness of the importance of preserving anthropological records; provides consulting and technical support to archival repositories; provides information on records location and access; and fosters collaboration between archivists responsible for anthropological collections and tribal archivists. CoPAR is sponsored by the major anthropological organizations in the United States in cooperation with the Society for American Archivists, the American Library Association, and the National Park Service.