Unfinished Business: Archives After Conflict in Guatemala, Sierra Leone, and South Africa | Wilson Center

Unfinished Business: Archives After Conflict in Guatemala, Sierra Leone, and South Africa

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

When a country emerges from conflict, citizens demand that perpetrators be held accountable for past violations of human rights; that the governmental system be reformed to prevent a future recurrence of past repressive practices; that the truth be told about what really happened, both in personal terms (such as learning the fate of a loved one) and in terms of how the society came to be what it was; and that reparation be made for the moral and material losses suffered during the period of oppression. Archives are essential to meet these demands.

Certified Archivist Trudy Huskamp Peterson will discuss examples of using archives for accountability in countries around the world, in her presentation entitled "Unfinished Business: Archives after Conflict in Guatemala, Sierra Leone, and South Africa."

Trudy Huskamp Peterson is a certified archivist and during her thirty-year career as an archivist, Peterson has served as the president of the Society of American Archivists and the president of the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives. Peterson was acting archivist of the United States from 1993 to 1995, the founding executive director of the Open Society Archives, the director of the archives and records program of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and a former Wilson Center public policy scholar. Currently, Peterson is a consultant on archives and a council member for the American Historical Association. Peterson is the recipient of the Republic of France's Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2007 the Academy of Certified Archivists presented Peterson with its Distinguished Service Award. Peterson's extensive list of articles and publications include: Final Acts: A Guide to Preserving the Records of Truth Commission; Archives and Manuscripts: Law; and Temporary Courts, Permanent Records. Peterson holds a M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Iowa.


  • Trudy H. Peterson

    Public Policy Scholar
    Consulting Archivist
  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    Woodrow Wilson Center