“Waking up begins with saying am and now.” The opening line of Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel A Single Man feels like a thoughtful and honest place for me to ground myself as the 2022-2023 project manager for Archivist in a Backpack (AiaB) in this second, post-grant phase. My name is Brianna McGruder and I come to this project as a… Continue reading ARCHIVIST IN A BACKPACK PART II
The oral history preservation kit is a staple brought back from the first iteration of Archivist in a Backpack. This kit focuses on communities interested in oral traditions and storytelling. Tools: Sound monitoring headphones, Zoom H1n Recorder, Zoom Recorder accessory pack, batteries, interview question cards, and thank you cards Community Example: Dr. Karida Brown led an… Continue reading Oral History Preservation Kit
The tools inside the archives care kit are focused on preservation and digitization of paper and photographic materials. Tools: USB camera, portable scanner, sheet protectors, batteries, portable digital storage, and manila folders Community Example: Archival Seedling partner Deborah Gray developed an archives care project to process, organize, and manage the papers and materials of Isaac S. Hathaway.… Continue reading Archives Care Kit
If you’re interested in joining Archivist in a Backpack part II, here is some guidance for how to receive your kit. Fill and submit this Google request form: https://forms.gle/fmAXwz5T31M6Cvy4A An SHC staff member will review your form for alignment with our program values Once your is approved, our team will coordinate shipping and offer opportunities practice… Continue reading How to Get an Archivist in a Backpack II Kit
The artifact care kit accommodates communities focused on three dimensional or museum items (quilts, trophies, clothing, furniture etc.) for their collective memory. Tools: Journal, unbuffered acid free tissue, gloves, cotton twill, paper envelopes, ethafoam sheets, fiberglass mesh, muslin fabric, acid free pens, paint brushes, and a soft lead pencil Community Example: In their partnership with… Continue reading Artifact Care Kit
The physical space mapping kit contains tools that will help a community document a physical space. This kit responds to community partners interested in documenting rapidly changing areas (largely due to gentrification), as well as documenting underserved or forgotten community spaces, such as burial grounds and school buildings. Tools: Portable microphone, polaroid camera, polaroid film, sleeve… Continue reading Physical Space Mapping Kit
In 2018, the Community Driven Archives Team launched our “archivist in a backpack” prototype in San Antonio, Texas, and the kits have been linked to our project since. We shared oral history backpacks and roller bags with scanning tools with members of our pilot partner communities, Archival Seedlings, and various projects that we encountered over… Continue reading Archivist in a Backpack, 2.0
Now that we’ve concluded the work on our grant, we are identifying ways that our short-term efforts can have a longer-term impact on the University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill.
What happens when large research university libraries engage in community outreach around archives and community memory? What should other university libraries know before embarking on community-driven archives projects? What should communities be aware of when they are approached to participate in these types of partnerships? Is it possible to generate and sustain more dynamic relationships… Continue reading Exploring the Nuance of Community-Driven Archives: A Conversation with Archives Practitioners Jimmy Zavala and Nancy Godoy
After four years, our Community-Driven Archives team has concluded its work on this Andrew W. Mellon grant-funded initiative. As we come to the end of our journey together, we took the time to reflect on and to be honest about the strengths of this work and the challenges and weaknesses of our project.
Against all expectation, with the suburbs of Orlando at its doorstep and the interstate visible from the town center, Eatonville has survived the fragmentation common to many small southern towns. If Eatonville retains a small-town atmosphere, it is also mindful of deep history.
The success of partnerships between communities and institutions often depends on the level of compatibility between the partners on issues of power and equity.
In 2012 and 2013, Archival Seedling William Isom, II helped conduct oral history interviews with a number of community members associated with Swift Memorial Institute, a late Historically Black College in Rogersville, Tennessee.
Archival Seedling Lisa R. Withers’s project reframes the Green Book travel guide as a publication highlighting social networks, community hubs, and prominent changemakers in African American communities across North Carolina.
What is Chapel Hill doing in San Antonio? The SHC’s role at SAAACAM is to share and develop resources and tools that help SAAACAM succeed in its goal of becoming a self-sustaining, self-directed, empowered archive and museum.
There are many ways to tell a story, through exhibits, digital projects, unfurlings, or participatory events. Pick the style that tells your story best and use these guidelines to keep you organized and on
Mayor Alberta McCrory wants to share the remarkable history of Hobson City and other historic Black towns in Alabama at the Hobson City Museum. Through a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries’ Community Driven Archives (CDA) project, Hobson City Museum hosted a workshop in March 2020 that focused on caring for museum collections.
Traditionally, archivists stick to access and preservation and leave interpretation and storytelling to the researchers. But what happens when we listen to what our audiences want? We find ways to help them tell meaningful stories about their communities’ history.
Archives can be like a black box. Description is like carving a window into the black box; the better the description, the bigger the window.
3 simple rules for preserving digital files.
As digital technology has become more accessible, archival practitioners have promoted “history harvests” or “community scan days” as opportunities for archives and libraries to preserve digital copies of historical items while community members retain their original copies.
Our grant project points to the need for critical reflection about institutional resources, and our experiences spur us to devise ways to more directly resource our partners, design grant projects with a bigger focus on equity, and collaborate with our community partners in the development of frameworks to help us measure progress in these areas.
Are you wondering if partnering with a larger institution might be a good way to support your community archive? Strategic partnership can support you and your project as you grow. The first step towards a successful partnership is to identify what you are looking for in a partner institution.
In an archival context, gift agreements transfer the physical ownership of materials from groups or individuals to an institution. Gift agreements should clearly lay out what the donor can expect from the institution and vice versa.
Who are you? What do you care about? How do your materials tell a story that no one else can tell? These are the questions at the heart of collection development work.
A guide for determining what is and what is not appropriate for your collection
Here are some tips to maintaining a vibrant and safe home archive.
Dyann Robinson is the heart and soul of the Tuskegee, Alabama theater scene. She founded the Tuskegee Repertory Theater in 1991.
Our team used charrettes to support project planning for a local group’s community archives project. This exercise supports a fledgling project in brainstorming, networking, and connecting with community members.
On September 21st a group of CDA team members and students from the Public History graduate program led by Dr. Charles Johnson at North Carolina Central University drove to Princeville NC to conduct oral histories. We partnered with lifelong citizens, town officials, and longtime residents of the Princeville community to collect stories and workshop the oral history backpacks.
CDA team member Gillian McCuistion reflects about the relationship between UNC Libraries project archivists and the Appalachian Student Health Coalition: What is our institutional role so that community storytellers and their needs are centered?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the change of medium from in-person to digital presented an unexpected opportunity to stretch our expectations of technology and start rethinking how we can use it to create embodied and relational experiences online.
Meet past team CDAT members: In October 2017, the Southern Historical Collection celebrated the complete staffing of our “Building A Model For All Users: Transforming Archive Collections Through Community-Driven Archives” Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant team.
CDA team members spent the last weekend of February traveling to Shaw, MS to conduct an Archivist in a Backpack Training and archival techniques workshop. They collaborated with a group working to preserve and share the history of the town of Shaw, specifically the civil rights case Hawkins vs. Town of Shaw.
Archival Seedlings was a 15-month program supporting the development of small community archives projects led by individual history keepers across the South.
Here are some ways our collaboration with Seedlings participants got creative in 2020 to resource local history initiatives with the support of our grant funds.
Navassa, NC is one of the towns in our Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) grant partnership. University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill has several interesting collections that encompass the history of this small town.
Around 1973, the Appalachian Student Health Coalition (ASHC) recognized that groups working in the east Tennessee area needed additional legal services not initally provided by ASHC. Thus, in the ASHC’s spirit of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comforted” the East Tennessee Research Corporation (ETRC) was born in 1974.
Not everyone is able to or wants to be responsible for the long-term care of archival materials, but many still wonder, “Who can I trust to be the steward of my important historical records?” The answer is different for everyone.
From 2017-19, the Community-Driven Archives (CDA) grant team and the Southern Historical Collection collaborated with Dr. Karida Brown while she was a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, along with many Appalachian families on the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP).
Here are some tips on how to find and create a sustainable and equitable partnership to help your history project thrive.
Introducing a pioneering online archive about student activism in the 1960s and 70s, a digital home for video clips, historic photos, and personal profiles from former activists in the rural South with a focus on health care.
When organizing your digital files, it is important to be consistent in what you name them and the information you collect and save about them. This information is called metadata. Use this tool to create your own metadata system for your digital items.
This guide will help you decide how to prioritize your digital files for preservation, how to safeguard and store your files, and how to digitize analog or paper items.
These question cards feature suggested topics and prompts to guide you through a simple oral history interview. We created them for our Archivist in a Backpack kits.
Community archives and other community-centric history, heritage, and memory projects work to empower communities to tell, protect, and share their history on their terms.
A charrette is a focus group that brings together a wide variety of stakeholders in order to map solutions.
When we talk about communities, we aren’t just talking about towns that exist right here, right now with neatly registered zip codes.
When it comes to protecting intellectual property that is part of your or your community’s history, it helps to understand what legal rights apply to your materials.
One of the central initiatives for the CDA Team is a transportable archiving kit that demystifies the technical jargon and supplies resources for communities.
The difference between preserving something and making something accessible to the public is important for communities to consider when managing digital files.
One of the most lasting things you can do is contribute your own historical materials to repository such as an archive, special collections library, historical society, or museum.
Before conducting an oral history interview, make sure to create a consent form for you and your interviewee to sign.
Build your own Archivist in a Backpack kit! This list includes links to all of the items we purchased, as well as suggestions for the number of items to include per kit.
Oral history interviews and genealogy projects are a wonderful way to document and connect about family stories and cultural history.
From the beginning, the Community-Driven Archives Team has prioritized oral history training and the collection of oral histories as a key part of our work.
Archival items, like photos and documents, let you discover history firsthand. Following a general research format can help you find amazing histories.