Harmful Language Statement

The John Carter Brown Library's Americana digital platform provides access to a vast collection of historical materials covering the colonial period in the Americas. These materials are invaluable for researchers and the public seeking to understand the complex and often tumultuous history of the Americas. However, it is important to acknowledge that some of these materials contain harmful language that reflects the racist, colonialist, oppressive, sexist, and misogynistic ideas that were prevalent during this time.

As an institution committed to promoting a more nuanced and complex understanding of the Americas and its history, we recognize the harm that these ideas have caused and continue to cause. Therefore, we believe it is essential to provide context and critical analysis of these materials to combat the perpetuation of harmful ideologies. We strive to do this through a variety of resources and tools that help users engage with these materials in a thoughtful and critical manner. These resources include detailed historical background information, critical analysis of the materials, and suggested discussion questions to help users explore the materials in greater depth.

We understand that the language used in these materials can be difficult and painful for some users, particularly those who have been directly impacted by the legacies of colonialism, racism, slavery and sexism. As such, we are committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for all users to engage with these materials. We encourage users to engage with these materials critically and thoughtfully, and to use them in a way that promotes knowledge and understanding.

Libraries have a crucial role in reviewing their metadata to avoid biased and harmful language. As part of our efforts to promote a more inclusive and equitable space, we are continuously reviewing and updating our metadata to ensure that it is accurate, inclusive, and respectful. We recognize that this is an ongoing process and we are committed to learning and growing to better serve our users and extended community.

We believe that it is essential for libraries to acknowledge and address the biases and harmful language present in their collections. By doing so, we can work towards creating a more equitable and just society. Through our commitment to critical analysis and inclusivity, we hope to foster a greater understanding of the complex and multifaceted history of the Americas.

If you come across any object or digital content in Americana that you believe contains harmful language or imagery, please report it to us by clicking here. We value your feedback and are committed to continuously improving Americana to create a more inclusive and diverse digital platform.

Last revision, March 2023.