Not just the fire hoses and the marches: Developing a model for user centered community archives
journal contributionposted on 02.02.2016 by Sonia Yaco
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
Archival social justice often emphasizes documenting the Activists and the Big Moments. But social change, even in the Civil Rights movement, is much more than just the fire hoses and the marches. One way that archivists can give voice to these untold stories is to assist community archives. Two associated projects developed techniques to collect and disseminate hidden histories related to civil rights in Virginia and Alabama. Kids in Birmingham 1963 (Kids) was created during the 50th anniversary of the “Year of Birmingham,” a turning point in the nation’s struggle for civil rights. The web site offers a place for people to tell their personal stories of coming of age in that turbulent time, stories that may otherwise be left out of the history. It borrowed techniques from Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) - a statewide collaboration that has created a union catalog of resources about the process of integrating schools in Virginia. DOVE has gained national attention for creative use of community organizing and digital technology to document and share the suppressed history of Virginia’s experience with school desegregation. The common elements and the techniques employed in the Kids and DOVE projects have led to the creation of a user-centered model for community archives. The model identifies four components: identifying stakeholders’ information needs and interests; gathering or creating content; providing an archives; and marketing the content. Protocols developed by the projects include techniques for discovery of public and private records, community building through face-to-face encounters and social media, linking community members with users of the archived content, conducting market research, and packaging content as attractive and usable products.