People’s History, Memory, & Archives


This page is a gateway to resources on people’s history and grassroots archives, on the Connexions website and elsewhere.

For more information and resources, including articles, books, and websites related to grassroots archives and peoples’ history, try these headings in the Connexions Subject Index:

Archives/NationalBook BurningBook PreservationCanadian History Cultural PreservationDestruction of Libraries and Archives Digital ArchivingDigital LibrariesHeritage ConservationHistorical Records HistoryHistory/Archives History of Political ThoughtIllustration ArchivesImmigrant HistoryInformation DestructionLabour History Left History Libraries Libraries/Archives Local HistoryMemoryOnline ArchivesOral HistoryPeople’s History Photography ArchivesPreservationWomen’s History Workers’ History .


Selected Archive Projects
An annotated list of archive projects concerned with grassroots movements for social justice.

The Case for Grassroots Archives
Grassroots archives play a valuable role in what has been called “the battle of memory”. People’s history projects such as grassroots archives preserve and share stories of resistance, hidden histories, and alternative visions.

Help us secure a future for the past
Connexions was founded in 1975 to connect activists and organizers with information, ideas, and each other. In our 5th decade, we’re still preserving and sharing ‘information to change the world’. Connexions is looking for a long-term home for our archive and our team. We’d like find a partner able to provide affordable space for a dynamic project.

Seeds of Fire
A People’s Chronology. What happened on this day in history? Seeds of Fire is people’s history, preserving memories of struggle, resistance, and persistence. Explore what happened on this day – or on any day of the year. Find out about people, movements, strikes, rebellions, revolts, uprisings, and revolutions, as well as the crimes of the ruling classes.

Radical & Left History Gateway
A selection of articles, books and links related to radical and left history.

Oral History & Memoirs Gateway
A selection of articles, books, interviews, conversations and links related to oral history and memoirs.

History Gateway
A selection of articles, books, and links related to history and the writing of history.

Activist Archiving in Toronto
A report on a public meeting called to discuss strategies for preserving the history of grassroots movements.

Is that an archive in your basement... or are you just hoarding?
Are you an ‘accidental archivist’? Have you been saving the publications and documents produced by the social justice projects you’ve been involved in? Have those materials you collected grown into a daunting accumulation of stuff in your basement, garage, or storage locker?




Memory Resistance Grassroots Archives People’s History

William Faulker: The past is never dead, it

Utah Phillips: Time is an enormous, long river, and I'm standing in it, just as you're standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me - and if I take the time to ask, and if I take the time to see, and if I take the time to reach out, I can build that bridge between my world and theirs. I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world.

George Orwell: Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

Joni Mitchell: Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.

Nelson Mandela: Anyone who has explored the world of archives will know that it is a treasure house, one that is full of surprises, crossing paths, dead ends, painful reminders and unanswered questions.

Ulli Diemer: The social transformation we are working for is a long revolution - a process that requires the efforts of generations of activists.

Seamus Milne: The battle over history is never really about the past - it's about the future.

Michael Riordon: Each life will never come again, and a whole range of knowledge passes with each person.

Mumia abu Jamal: Before this generation goes on to its ancestors, we should, we must, do our level best to pass on our lessons, so that they live in our people's minds and lives.

Ulli Diemer: One of the problems with our society is that we believe everything has to be new and different. I don't apologize for having ideas that are

Wangari Maathai: Before anything happens to me I want to know that the seeds have really been planted, that things will carry on changing.

Oscar Wilde: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

William Least Heat Moon: We can't select our ancestors, but they, often in ways never to be guessed, can select pieces of our future.

Pia Barros: The memory of the vanquished is dangerous for the conquerors.

When an old man dies a library burns to the ground

William Morris: Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes, turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.

Utah Phillips: The long memory is the most radical idea in America. That long memory has been taken away from us. You haven't gotten it in your schools. You're not getting it on your television. You're being leapfrogged from one crisis to the next. Mass media contributed to that by taking the great movements that we've been through and trivializing important events. No, our people's history is like one long river. It flows down from way over there. And everything that those people did and everything they lived flows down to me, and I can reach down and take out what I need, if I have the courage to go out and ask questions.

Ulli Diemer: We are part of a movement for justice that stretches across continents and across generations. People have always resisted injustice, and always sought to create a world based on values of community, sharing, freedom and justice. We are part of a continuum.

Milan Kundera: The struggle of humanity against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Christopher Lasch: There is history that remembers and history that arises from a need to forget.

William Least Heat Moon: Memory, that force which our humanity, our humanness, our civilization, our lives and lives, proceed. We can survive without morality or arithmetic or logic, but without memory, we haven't a chance. We are who we are and where we are in no insignificant measure because of immaterial memories.

George Orwell: Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

Heinrich Heine: Wherever they burn books they will also end up burning people.

William Least Heat Moon: A human's best chance for something approximating life everlasting lies in the memory of others.

Ulli Diemer: We need all the help we can get in overthrowing capitalism, including the help of people who are dead.

You are not expected to complete the work in your lifetime. Neither must you refuse to do your part.

Ulli Diemer: We're not going to stop working for justice just because we're dead.