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Untold Narratives of Albemarle County

Bias and Racism in Historic Research

As you conduct research involving race and history, you will encounter language, concepts, images, and more that reflect institutions of white supremacy, enslavement, eugenics, and other disturbing and violent systems of belief and power. Published information is full of terms and concepts that would no longer be considered ethical or factual.  Searching for and interpreting historic information brings researchers into proximity with biased language, collection processes, access policies, and more. What information is collected, preserved, and made accessible (and how) is a consequence of the values of a society.  While Libraries and Archives are often engaged in efforts to de-colonize our collections, our institutions are part of systems of historic harm.  
While conducting this research, you may be required to engage with:

  • historic terminology that is racist and offensive 
  • racist generalizations, sometimes disguised as "science"
  • accounts and images of violence and degradation

For information about some of the work being done at the University of Virginia Libraries with regard to bias in the cataloging and description of materials in our collections, see: