Lae’l Hughes-Watkins



Kent State University, Kent, OH

M.S Library Information Science, 2010

Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

M.A, English, 2008

Graduate Certifications Professional Writing and Editing/Teaching of Writing

B.A Journalism and Political Science, 2004


Kent State University, Kent, OH

University Libraries, Special Collections, and Archives,

University Archivist, Assistant Professor,  2013-Present

Responsibilities: Oversee the University Archives program, including acquiring, appraising, processing, preserving, and providing effective access to historically significant records, in all formats, created by and for Kent State University. Co-administer University’s records retention program with General Counsel, provide leadership in identifying and managing the long-term preservation of and access to electronic records. Participate in instruction, reference assistance, and development of collections that are part of University Archives, including the May 4 Collection. Manage special projects related to University Archives collections, including digitization of selected materials and creation of exhibitions.

  • Manage the Kent State Shootings Oral History project
  • Facilitate tours of archival collections and services
  • Manage student assistants
  • Participate in outreach programming
  • Subject librarian for university history and Kent State Shootings (May 4)
  • Responsible for social media platforms, generating and updating content to all social media platforms, including Facebook, blog, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. Duties also entail analyzing statistical reports and tracking user engagement.

Western Reserve Historical Society, Archivist African American Collections, 2018



Roundtable: Centering Black Stories in Archives. Antiracism Event Series. The Center for Literary and Comparative Studies. Panelist. November 16, 2020. (Invited)(Upcoming)  

Reparative Archives: Acquisition, Advocacy, Utilization, and Transformation Workshop. Diversity and Inclusion Grant. Hosted by Elon University. September 29-30, 2020. Facilitator. (Invited) 

Best Practice Presentation: Project STAND: Metadata standards for student activism.  Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, Valencia Johnson, Shannon Walker, Trevor Watkins, Chris Wydman. Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Virtual Conference. September 24, 2020. Invited.

SAA/ARL Mosaic Scholarship Leadership Forum. Society of American Archivist Annual Conference. Panelist. August 10, 2020. (Invited)

Archiving Protests, Protecting Activists. DocNow. June 19, 2020. Panelist. (Invited)

Transforming Knowledge, Transforming Libraries Virtual Summit (TKTL). “Sustaining

Transformation: how do we commit to liberatory structures?” April 29, 2020. (Invited


“America’s Family Scrapbook.” Navigating the digital shift: practices and possibilities. Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities Conference (DCDC). Birmingham, United Kingdom. November 12-14, 2019. (Invited Keynote)

Reparative Archives: Acquisition, Advocacy, Utilization, and Transformation. Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). Cambridge, Maryland. November 7, 2019. Workshop Facilitator

Radical Illini: Conversations on Student Activism. University of Illinois Press hosts conversations on past and present student activism in honor of our new book by Michael Metz, Radicals in the Heartland: The 1960s Student Protest Movement at the University of

Illinois.  University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.  October 4-5, 2019 (Invited Keynote)

Documenting Movements: Archivists as Social Justice Advocates. Remarks by Verne Harris, Deputy of Archive and Dialogue Nelson Mandela Foundation, Dominican

University Follett Chair Library and Information Science. Chicago Collections and Black.

Metropolis Research Consortium. October 30, 2018. (Invited Keynote)

Movement 68 Symposium. A panel discussion on the past 50 years of black student activism and experiences at Middle Tennessee State University, featuring alumni and students from the 1960s to the present day. Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, October 23, 2018. (Invited Keynote)

“What is Project STAND?” Society of Ohio Archivists, Fall Conference. Columbus, Ohio. October 5, 2018. (Invited)

“S.A.V.E Methodology,” Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Conference,

Web Archiving Section. Co-Presenter: Trevor U. Watkins, Assistant Professor, Kent

State University. Washington, D.C. August 15, 2018. (invited)

“Catalysts, Pioneers, and Provocateurs: 21st Century Academic Libraries. Co-Panelists:

Jenny Robb, Curator and Associate Professor The Ohio State University Billy Ireland       Cartoon Library & Museum, Krista McDonald, Director Miami University Regionals

Rentschler Library, and Nimisha Bhat , Technical Services Librarian Columbus College of Art & Design Packard Library. Ohio Private Academic Libraries Conference (OPAL),     Columbus, Ohio.  August 2-3, 2018. (invited)

“STAND: Documenting the Social Movements of Historically Marginalized Student

Populations,” Panelist for Archives of Change. Ethics in Web Archiving Conference.

Sponsored by Rhizome, Knight Foundation, and DocNow. New York, Soho. March 21-24,

  1. (juried)

“Project STAND: A Collaborative Initiative to Highlight Acts of Social Justice through

Archives.” American Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) Annual Conference. Columbus,

Ohio. October 27, 2017. (juried)

“Post Trauma: Archiving Black Pain in a White Space.” Keynote Speaker. Decolonizing

Archives. Arizona Historical Society Symposium. October 22, 2017. (invited)

“WOKE since the 1960s: How Student Activism Has Shaped the Nation.” 102nd Annual

Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and

History. Panel Chair/Presenter. Presenters: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, Dr. Elizabeth Smith

Pryor (Kent State University), Jacqueline Johnson (Miami University), and Dr. Robert

Luckett (Jackson State University). Cincinnati, Ohio. Sept. 27, 2017. (invited)

“Preserving the Spark: Challenges in Archiving Activist Movements.” Society of American

Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting. Portland, Oregon. July 28, 2017. (juried)

“KSU through the Years in Maps and Aerial Images.” GIS Day. Kent State University,

Student Center. November 17, 2016. (invited)

“Activism in the Archives: How the Acquisition of a Collection Is Influencing Relationships

With Diverse Populations and Stimulating Collaborative Relationships for Instructional

Design.” August 11, 2016. National Diversity in Libraries Conference co-sponsored by

Association of Research Libraries. University of California in Los Angeles. (juried)

“Get on the BUS: A Pictorial of Black Student Protest at KSU” March 3, 2016. Kent State

University, Kent. (invited)

“Kent State Shootings Oral History Project: An Overview.” April 18, 2015. Ohio Local

History Alliance. Warren Public Library. Warren, Ohio. (invited)

“Using Outreach in the Archives to Connect with Under-Documented Communities.” August 13, 2014. Society for American Archivists Annual Meeting: Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable. Washington, DC. (juried)

“Digitization Case Study: The May 4 Digital Archive.” Presenters: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins and Cara Gilgenbach. April 12, 2014. Ohio Local History Alliance. Kent State University, Kent. (invited)

“Kent State Shootings Oral History Project.” March 21, 2014. May 4 Voices Teacher

Workshop. Kent State University, Kent. (invited)

“Fay M. Jackson and the Color Line: The first foreign correspondent for the Associated

Negro Press in London.” March 21-22, 2009. The Association for African American

Historical Research and Preservation Biennial Black History Conference. Seattle

Washington University, Washington. (invited)

“Fay M. Jackson and the Re-Contextualization of Black Entertainers through Cinematic

Representations in the Early 20th Century.” March 18-22, 2008. Popular Culture

Association Conference. San Francisco, California. (juried)

“Fay M. Jackson and Flash Magazine: The Contributions of a Black Pioneering Journalist to the New Negro Movement.” March 27-29, 2008. Harlem Renaissance Revisited Conference. The University of Connecticut. Storrs, Connecticut. (juried)

“Stories of Collecting Pieces and Lives.” December 4, 2007. Ohio Writing Institute Fall

Conference. Youngstown State University. Youngstown, Ohio. (invited)


“Kent State Shootings: Through the Lens of Two Photographers.” Kent State University Department of Special Collections and Archives. Curated by: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. 2016-2020

“Get on the BUS: A Pictorial of Black Student Protest at KSU.” Kent State University Department of Special Collections and Archives. Curated by: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. 2016

“Coming of Age at Kent, 1967-71: A pictorial of black student life.” Kent State University’s Department of Pan African Studies, Uumbaji Gallery. Curated by: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. 2014

“Kent State Shootings: Through the Media’s Lens.” Curated by: Lae’l Hughes-Watkins and Elizabeth Campion. 2014


Tenure-Track (Peer Reviewed)

Hughes-Watkins, Lae’l. “Between Two Worlds: A Look at the Impact of the Black Campus Movement on the Antiwar Era of 1968-1970 at Kent State University.” Ohio History Journal. 124:1 (2017): 41-64.

Bonnie James Shaker and Angela Gianoglio Pettitt and Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. “Recovering Kate Chopin’s “Her First Party”: Media, Mediation, Message.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 27, 1 (2017): 21-24.

Hughes-Watkins, Lae’l. “Filling in the Gaps: Using Outreach Efforts to Acquire Documentation on the Black Campus Movement, 1965-1972.” Archival Issues. 36:1 (2014): 28-42

Tenure Track (Non-Peer Reviewed)

Hughes-Watkins, Lae’l. “Are You Pinning: Why History Organizations Should Consider Pinterest.” The Local Historian. (July/August 2015)

Pre-Tenure Track Faculty Appointment

Hughes-Watkins, Lae’l. “Fay M. Jackson and the Color Line: The First African American Foreign Correspondent for the Associated Negro Press.” The Journal Pan African Studies. 3:2 (2009): 119-134.


“Freedom of Speech,” Communications, Kent State University, 2013-2017.

“Geography Graduate Seminar,” Geography Department, Kent State University, 2017.

“Rhetoric and Composition Graduate Course,” English Department, Kent State University, 2017.

“Civil Rights and Black Power,” History Department, Kent State University, 2017.


The Journal of Contemporary Archival Science (blind reviewer), 2017-present

Ohio History Journal (blind reviewer), 2016

Ohio History Connection Fund (grants), 2015-2016


Project STAND (founder), 2016-present

Created an online clearinghouse to highlight analog and digital collections at universities and colleges, emphasizing student activism around the country. Solicited university archivists, library directors, and digital archivists for participation. Created collection assessment surveys, provided an analysis of surveys, assisted in the development of website:

Black Campus Movement Collection Development Initiative, 2013 present

Established a collection development initiative to document black student activism at Kent State University for the Department of Special Collections and Archives. Facilitated 15 oral histories and the acquisition of multiple collections.


Kent State University Libraries Ad Hoc Committee NTT Faculty (2015, 2017)

Kent State University May 4 50th Anniversary Committee (2016-present)

Kent State University Libraries, CAC Committee (2016-present)

Kent State University Libraries Search Committee, Digital Project Archivist (2016)

Kent State University Libraries Diversity Committee, Co-chair (2016)

Kent State University Libraries Diversity Committee (2014-2015)


Mid-Western Archives Conference: Nominating Committee (2016-2017)

Society of American Archivists: Diversifying the Archival Record Case Study, Diversity Committee, (2014-2016)

Society of American Archivists: Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable Nominating Task Force, (2014-2015)


Ohio Local History Alliance, Board Member (2014-2015, 2017-present)


  • American Library Association of Ohio (ALAO)
  • Mid-Western Archives (MAC)
  • Society of American Archivists (SAA)
  • Archives and Archivists of Color Roundtable
    • Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)


California Rare Books School Scholarship. Awarded: $1200

Providing Access to the Kent State Shootings Audio Archive. Principal Investigators: Cara Gilgenbach, Virginia Dressler, Lae’l Hughes-Watkins. Project awarded: $2,000 by the Ohio Archives Grant, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration through their State and National Archival Partnership Grants program. 2015.


California Rare Books School (Calrbs). “Developing & Administering Collections of African American Resources,” UCLA, Los Angeles, Ca., August 7-11, 2017.

Accessioning and Ingest of Electronic Record. Society American Archivists. Washington, D.C. April 2017.

Digital Curation Course. Kent State University. Spring 2017.

Project Management 101: Planning Your Project. OCLC Webinar. February 5 and 19, 2015.

Oral History, Archives, and Innovation. Midwest Archives Conference Fall Symposium. University of Illinois. Urbana Champaign, Illinois. September 12-13, 2014.

Schomburg Center State of Black Research Collections Conference. Schomburg Center. Harlem, NY. October 30-31, 2014.

Digital Archives and Libraries. Society American Archivists. Syracuse University Libraries. Syracuse, NY. March 10, 2014.

Digital Curation: Creating an Environment for Success. Society American Archivists. Syracuse University Libraries. Syracuse, NY. March 11, 2014.