Hello and welcome to the Community-Driven Archive blog located on the Southern Historical Collection’s Southern Sources! The Southern Historical Collection is part of the Wilson Special Collections Library of the University Libraries, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. On this blog, we, the Community-Driven Archives Team or CDAT for short, will talk about the work you see (like the “AiaB” Archivist in a Backpack) and some behind the scenes activities, such as discussions about funding, obstacles we’ve faced, the little victories, and aspects of community archives that don’t make it into the brochures. We hope that you find our posts engaging and thought-provoking, and this blog is for anyone and everyone. From archival and institutional practitioners to community members and everyone in between you are welcome here!
Community archives are complex and there are a lot of ways to talk about the different types of community history and memory practices. One common analogy is that of a garden. In a recent Letonica article, Director of the Southern Historical Collection Bryan Giemza notes,
[there are] those who see the archive as analogous to a garden. Properly tended, it keeps growing, and the measure of its good is both in its sustainability and the measure of nourishment it provides. If food sustains the ability of a community to reinvent itself, which is necessary to the advancement of any civilization, an archive contains the cultural resources that provide the creative sustenance for the process.
Gardens offer a more accessible image of information and community materials; they are an epicenter of collaborative activity. Community champions break the ground and help prepare the foundation. Donors provide the seeds, while volunteers till the soil, water, and feed the new growth. Visitors, outsides and locals, consume the produce and have the seeds of inspiration planted in their own minds. The community can be nourished by the visibly of their work, and the tangible outcome it provides, be that an exhibit, a website, a history harvest, or series of oral history interviews. Community archives can be kept small and within the bounds of the planter or they can climb over the garden walls and expand outside anyone’s previous notions. These types of community archive-gardens are unique to each community and we at CDAT are excited to share our experiences and hear about the work of others!
We post every week on different topics but if there is something you’d like to see, let us know either in the comments or email Claire our Community Outreach Coordinator: email@example.com.
Follow us on Twitter @SoHistColl_1930 #AiaB #yourstory #ourhistory #communityarchives #EKAAMP #HBTSA #SHC #SAAACAM #gardenarchives
This image is from one of our pilot projects, the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project, or EKAAMP. Gardens feature heavily in our jargon and our work as you can see!