University of Arizona

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How Special Collections brings archives to life

Our Special Collections department contributes research work and support that results in course curricula, manuscripts and books, articles, films, and much more. 

Even podcasts. 

In October 2019, Canadian podcaster Adam Huggins traveled to Tucson to do some research at Special Collections. He was producing a four-part podcast series about Jim Corbett, one of the leaders of the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. 

Huggins worked with Assistant Librarian and Archivist Trent Purdy and Archival Assistant Amanda Howard to consult the Sanctuary Trial papers and the Miriam Davidson papers for his project.  

Trent and Amanda put a lot of work and time─about 18 months─into digitizing materials from Davidson’s interviews with Corbett, John Fife, Lupe Castillo and others to make them publicly accessible. 

Several of these archival interviews now comprise a new collection and were incorporated throughout Huggins’ series, Goatwalker, for the podcast Future Ecologies

One segment, Goatwalker: Sanctuary (Part 2), highlights how Corbett, a philosopher-turned-rancher, led a national movement to enact U.S. immigration law at the grassroots level. 

Trent and Amanda are presenting at the Oral History Society virtual conference 2021 to talk about this project and how recordings are used by multiple media producers and journalists. The Oral History Society is based in the United Kingdom.

In case you're wondering, Jim Corbett wrote a book in 1991 titled, Goatwalking.

Photo:
Jim Corbett headshot by Sterling Vinson: Jim Corbett Collection, courtesy of University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections

More information

Goatwalker: Sanctuary (Part 2)
By Adam Huggins
In the early 1980s, the outbreak of civil war across Central America forced unprecedented numbers of refugees to seek asylum in the United States, putting the recently passed 'Refugee Act' of 1980 to the test. There was just one catch: the Reagan Administration was providing funding to right-wing governments that most of these refugees were fleeing. As a result, Central American refugees making the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands were being intercepted, denied asylum, and summarily deported.

As this crisis unfolded, a ragtag group of self-proclaimed 'goatherds errant', led by philosopher-turned-rancher Jim Corbett, took it upon themselves to enact U.S. immigration law at the grassroots level. In so doing, they sparked a national movement that continues to the present day, turning the concept of 'civil disobedience' upside-down.