Community Archives Collaborative

With a planning grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, and in partnership with Densho, Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), and Interference Archive, SAADA is excited to announce the creation of the Community Archives Collaborative.

Project Advisors:
Dr. Michelle Caswell (bio)
Bergis Jules (bio)

The Community Archives Collaborative seeks to formalize partnerships between community-based archives by creating a space for community-based archives practitioners across the country to collaborate, share skills, trainings, and best practices, leverage pooled resources, and provide peer-to-peer mentoring in order to support long-term sustainability and growth at these institutions. In doing so, the Community Archives Collaborative will help ensure that marginalized communities are more fully represented in the historical record.

Community-based archives hold some of the most valuable materials documenting the lives of marginalized people, and mostly reside in spaces outside of traditional academic and government-run cultural heritage institutions. By disrupting the hierarchical models in place in traditional archives, these repositories prompt community members to view collections as belonging to the community and challenge dominant practices and conceptions of custody, description, and ownership.1 In community archives, archival work is done by and with the community, and not just for the community. Despite their importance to collecting, preserving, and sharing stories of marginalized people, many community archives face difficulties growing their operations, keeping their doors open, and enhancing their programming and collections activities. Often formed in response to being shut out of dominant historical narratives, the stark reality is that materials preserved and made accessible by community-based archives mostly fall outside the scope and collecting interests of traditional archival repositories and would likely be erased from public consciousness if not for their work.

Staff from the four partner institutions and project advisors will meet in Chicago, IL from November 22-24, 2019 for a three-day planning workshop to explore areas of common interest, engage in joint capacity-building trainings, and create a roadmap for the next stages of the Community Archives Collaborative.

1. Jimmy Zavala, Alda Allina Migoni, Marika Cifor, Noah Geraci, and Michelle Caswell. “A Process Where We're All at the Table”: Community Archives Challenging Dominant Modes of Archival Practice.” Archives and Manuscripts, 2017.