This case study gives a brief overview of a long-standing archival and research project in Latina/o history, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, which was established in 1990 by a group of scholars, librarians, and archivists. It outlines the scope, effort, and community-building that it takes to create a long-running and successful project, and can be used to focus on the care that it takes to steward such large-scale recovery projects forward. It also shows the clear and concrete way that this archive formed the locus of a research community and prompted new types of scholarship.
Mapping Violence: A Case Study on Project Development, Iterative Approaches to Data Collection and Visualization, and Collaborative Work With Undergraduates / Jim McGrath
This case study looks at an important benchmark in the development of Mapping Violence, a digital project interested in histories and records of state-sanctioned racial violence on the Mexico/Texas border in the early twentieth century. Specifically, it focuses on work completed in the summer of 2016 with a team of undergraduates at Brown University, documenting some of the collaborative, iterative, pedagogical, and ethical dimensions of the project’s ideas of data, interface, and audience.
Organization for Transformative Works: What We Believe
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is “a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.” Here it provides a model values statement showing how one community, rooted in a primarily female culture, views the importance of preserving its history and archive. Also useful for considering the ways that some community archives, in this case of transformative fan works, may require firm knowledge of copyright and fair use law — see the section on Legal Advocacy for more. Pairing OTW beliefs towards transformative works with readings on the privacy and intellectual property needs of other marginalized communities would be particularly fruitful, showing the complicated role of privacy and intellectual property in community archives.
artasiamerica is a digital archive for Asian and Asian American contemporary art history. It is an excellent example of a long-term community archive (based at the Asian American Arts Center in New York City), beginning with deep physical collections of which a selection have been processed and digitized. The digital collections are notable for their careful consideration of metadata application, using both existing standards and local headings when existing standards do not have needed terms (see a brief discussion in the FAQ.)
Diversifying the Digital Historical Record
The Diversifying the Digital Historical Record website has essential coverage of a series of national forums, led by co-PIs Michelle Caswell and Bergis Jules, “focusing on community archives integration in a national digital platform and the potential impact for representation of diverse communities in our digital cultural heritage.” See also the publications and final report with important conclusions, particularly for software development, including for example that “Rather than create a central digital repository for community archival materials, community archives practitioners instead express a need for a structured online space to create a network, share resources and best practices, and leverage each other’s expertise.”
Black Metropolis Research Consortium
The Black Metropolis Research Consortium is a model project for inter-institutional collaboration and community partnership. The project focuses on methods needed to surface and connect materials related to the history and culture of African Americans. The BMRC’s activities include support for internships and fellowships along with projects such as surveying and processing relevant collections for inclusion into their specialized search of finding aids related to African American history and culture. See in particular the BMRC database as an example of increased accessibility through the focused processing of archival collections. The BMRC is, from their website hosted at the University of Chicago: “a Chicago-based membership association of libraries, universities, and other archival institutions. Its mission is to make broadly accessible its members’ holdings of materials that document African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago.”
Archivists and Archives of Color Section
The Archivists and Archives of Color Section is an essential group, informally known as AAC, that creates space and advocacy for archives and archivists of color. A section of the Society of American Archivists, AAC members are often at the forefront of thinking about how to partner with marginalized communities and steward community archives both physical and online. It is also an essential community of support for archivists of color.
Archival Absence: The Burden of History / Ashley Glass-Falzetti
Beautifully argued and written, suggesting (and further analyzing) practices of marking absences in history, and it is quite productive for those in processing, cataloging, digitization, and system design to consider how they might mark absences. From the article: “At saakaciweeyankwi, the annual Myaamia language camp in Indiana, a non-Miami man showed up one evening to speak with elders. He hoped to learn more about the history of the land where his wilderness preserve is located. After some conversation, we figured out that he wanted some tidbits to put on signs around the property with Miami names for landmarks and maybe something about the Miami who lived there. After those of us who run the camp discussed our response, we told him that there is no doubt that Miami people lived on that land. Unfortunately, there are no Myaamia names for those landmarks because those Miami were either forced to migrate west of the Mississippi River or they were massacred. Either way, those particular place names were lost along with the names of the people who kept them. I sincerely suggested that he put that on a sign.” Falzetti analyzes the potential of similar such markers in archives and special collections, which has interesting implications for the design of digital collection systems.
Indian Arts Research Center
The Indian Arts Research Center is a division of the School for Advanced Research, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution established in 1907 to advance innovative social science and Native American art. Since 2010, the Indian Arts Research Center has “pioneered a radically participatory approach to the stewardship of its Native American art collection” through initiatives such as its Native American Artists Fellowships and extensive, no-cost programming for the Native Community. The IARC also led the development of the excellent Community + Museum and Museum + Community guidelines, created through a three-year period of collaboration between Native and non-Native museum professionals, cultural leaders and artists.
Introducing Critical Race Theory to Archival Discourse: Getting the Conversation Started / Anthony Dunbar
An excellent introduction to and definition of key terms such as critical race theory, microaggression, and social justice, clearly linking those terms to core archival concepts and processes such as how one defines and structures an archival “record”.
“This article introduces the application of Critical Race Theory (CRT) to archival discourse in order to demonstrate how such a critical and analytical approach can help identify and raise social and professional consciousness of implicit racial bias. To demonstrate the potential of CRT, the paper discusses how the terminology and methodological structures of CRT might be applied to some aspects of archival theory and practice. The paper concludes that CRT can contribute to a diversified archival epistemology that can influence the creation of collective and institutional memories that impact underrepresented and disenfranchised populations and the development of their identities.”