Monday, September 8, 2008

Obama in the archives, pt. III

On the SAA listserv, the UIC-Chicagao Annenberg Challenge flap is being kept alive. Conservative bloggers are convinced that the CAC collection is being vetted to prevent researchers from uncovering embarrassing material on Barack Obama. But the emails from Kenneth Rolling, former director of the CAC, actually look pretty innocent to me. Only a very few folders are marked as potentially containing confidential information and the reasons are entirely legitimate: one set contains records of a job search and might contain confidential information on the applicants; the other set relates to research where the subjects were promised confidentiality. Having worked briefly with research and IRB matters, I know that confidentiality of research subjects' private information is a Very Big Deal. So now I'm inclined to think there's much less to the affair than it first appeared, other than to note that archives need to have it all together before things hit the fan.

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