In 2013, former members of the Student Health Coalition partnered with the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to build a community-driven archive. Over the following years, Coalitioners retrieved historical documents, photographs, audio recordings, artifacts, and other treasures that describe the decades of work of the Coalition in underserved rural and urban communities throughout southern United States. (Click the Resources/Links tab above to browse the archive.)
Besides the gift of a great learning curve for the Coalitioners, this communally composed archive also represents a paradigm shift for historians and archivists. Unlike traditional archives built on stories of fame, power, and wealth, this new model strives to commemorate and protect the stories of the common, the marginalized, the often-forgotten. The process strives to re-define “archival value”.
The new model measures its meaning to society by its potential to create a place where individuals and groups come to process complex past experiences or emotions, a place for reflection, reconciliation, memorialization, and commemoration.
Bryan Giemza, “More than words: respectful stewardship and the balance of community archives,” Letonica issue 36, 2017, pp 32-44.
The community-driven archives model at UNC addresses the urgent business of enfranchising communities in the curation of their own history. The Student Health Coalition archive is part of a larger pilot at UNC’s Southern Historical Collection. We are joined in the adventure by these other great projects:
Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance
Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project
San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum