A great number of works of history, manuscripts and documents have traditionally bypassed the histories of women, persons of color and members of minority populations,
The past practice of parochial and exclusive history causes current, ongoing harm to those whose stories are not know and have not been told,
This insular history deprives all of the opportunity to gain a more complete and thorough understanding of the history of our communities, our nation and its peoples,
I, as a Municipal Historian, leader and member of an historical society, an archivist, engaged in researching, writing, teaching and archiving history, am privileged to hold a position wherein I can offer corrections to this imbalance.
In all my ongoing historical endeavors,
I hereby pledge always to:
- Seek out and research names of spouses and significant others allied to the subjects of my research and to include them in my writing, including citations, whenever relevant; Example: when referring to households in federal, state and other census records, I will always include the name of the spouse, such as “the John and Mary Smith household”…etc.
- Gather biographical information about my subjects so as to include those persons in significant relationships with my subjects.
- Strive to label and refer to important landmarks such as homes, other buildings, structures and places, with the names of both spouses of a family, and in some cases referring to structures by family name, rather than that of one person. While the homes of notable persons may be named after one person because of a significant contribution to humanity, most others deserve inclusion.
- Devote sufficient time to discover often-overlooked groups, such as women, African Americans, Native Americans and often socially and historically marginalized groups, and to include them as much as possible in all activities. For example, whenever referring to some of the “first settlers” in an area, I will refer to them as first “white” or European, etc. settlers in the area, where relevant.
- Attempt to use inclusive language in writing and labeling. It is difficult always to use inclusive language when referring to past documents, for example, the phrase “all men are created equal,” is historically accurate. However, I will use all effort to avoid non-inclusive language.
- Teach others through publications, presentations and conversations, accurate, complete and inclusive history, as I know it.
- Refer to others in the pronouns with which they desire to be called, and be sensitive in language about and consciousness of those who know themselves to be non-binary, other-than, or outside traditional societal stereotypes and classifications of gender and other aspects of our humanity.
Dr. Robert L. Rafford
Middlebury Municipal Historian
President, Middlebury Historical Society, Inc.
Middlebury, Connecticut 06762
November 9, 2020