Archives As Activism
Date Written: 10/04/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20803
Last week was archives awareness week in Ontario, a week to raise awareness about what archivists do, what archives are, and just generally celebrate all of the good stuff associated with archives. In addition to general archives promotion this week it is also about the connection between archives and activism.
Archives can connect to activism and activist movements in a number of ways, however this connection often falls into two main categories: 1) Archival material being used as evidence in activism campaigns and 2) Archives disrupting social norms by collecting and archiving the work of those outside of mainstream society.
The act of preserving the voices of oppressed groups, marginalized communities, and social movements can be a form of activism. For example, the community driven archival projects that were created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement such as the Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project and Documenting Ferguson are examples of archives and communities working together to document a social activism movement.
The Baltimore Uprising initiative aims to create a digital repository of "content that was captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015." The project is a collaboration between the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore university faculty and community organizations. It is a purely digital initiative and is an example of documenting a community member, social protest, and creating archival records through community.