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Josephine Forman Scholarship Promotes Diversity in the Archival Profession

Featured Josephine Forman Scholarship Promotes Diversity in the Archival Profession

The Josephine Forman Scholarship, administered by the General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) in partnership with the Society of American Archivists (SAA), provides financial support to minority students pursuing graduate education in archival science, encourages students to pursue a career as an archivist, and promotes the diversification of the American archives profession. The scholarship is given to applicants who demonstrate excellent potential for scholastic and personal achievement and who manifest a commitment both to the archives profession and to advancing diversity concerns within it.

In 2014, the recipient was Joanna Chen Cham. “I am most grateful for the wonderful and supportive community of archivists and information professionals I have gotten to know and for the generosity of colleagues and organizations such as the General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church that made it possible for students like me to learn freely and take advantage of exciting professional opportunities because of valuable financial support,” said Cham. “I am honored and thankful to have received the 2014-2015 Josephine Forman Scholarship, which helped tremendously in allowing me to pursue my passions throughout graduate school. Indeed, the financial support has made every difference in the opportunities I was able to take.”

Cham graduated from UCLA and currently works with the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute on indexing Nanjing Massacre Testimonies to increase discoverability and make these valuable visual histories more accessible to researchers and the public. She is also working with the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies in surveying and creating finding aids for the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood, which is one of the oldest Sephardic congregations in Los Angeles.

The scholarship is named for Josephine Forman, archivist for eighteen years of the Southwest Texas Conference of the UMC and author of We Finish to Begin: A History of Travis Park United Methodist Church, 1846–1991.  As Conference Archivist, Ms. Forman collected records from closed churches along with administrative records for the Conference. For many years she was the Church Historian at Travis Park UMC in San Antonio. She was also committed to training and education for archivists and church historians.

“I am committed to engaging in professional organizations to continue the push toward diversity in the field,” said Cham. “As a second-generation Taiwanese American in a field where Asian Americans make up roughly 1% of the profession, my hope is to engage in efforts to increase diversity in the field and in the history we collect. Ultimately, my goal is to become a leader in the information profession and serve diverse communities by providing access to information and lifelong learning, and I am thankful for scholarships such as the Josephine Forman Scholarship that are committed to pushing for more diversity in our field.”

For more information on the Josephine Forman Scholarship and how to apply, visit

James (Jay) Rollins is the Director of Communications for the General Commission on Archives and History of the UMC.