Volume 23, Number 5/6
Table of Contents
Diversifying the Digital Historical Record: Integrating Community Archives in National Strategies for Access to Digital Cultural Heritage
Michelle Caswell, University of California, Los Angeles
caswell [at] gseis.ucla.edu
Christopher Harter, Amistad Research Center
charter [at] tulane.edu
Bergis Jules, University of California, Riverside
bergis.jules [at] ucr.edu
Corresponding Author: Christopher Harter, charter [at] tulane.edu
Some of the most valuable collections documenting the lives of marginalized people in the United States reside in spaces outside traditional academic and government institutions. They exist as independently curated, highly valuable sites for remembering, owned and operated by the communities they document. How can community-based archives participate in national strategies to digitize materials documenting marginalized communities? What are the social, cultural and technological barriers to participation and what are the benefits? How might national digital strategies leverage materials in community-based archives in order to diversify the digital record while respecting community-based autonomy and authority? These are questions explored by a consortium of community-based archives awarded a $100,000 IMLS National Leadership Grant for the project "Diversifying the Digital Historical Record: Integrating Community Archives in National Strategies for Access to Digital Cultural Heritage." This paper presents preliminary findings of the first two forums sponsored by this project; namely that, while technological challenges impede the participation of community archives in national digital strategies, ethical considerations related to autonomy, custody, and stewardship also present significant barriers. Rather than create a central digital repository for community archival materials, community archives practitioners instead express a need for a structured online space to create a network, share resources and best practices, and leverage each other's expertise.
Keywords: Digital Historical Records, Community Archives, Digital Cultural Heritage, Diversity
Some of the most valuable collections documenting the lives of marginalized people in the United States reside in spaces outside traditional academic and government institutions. They exist throughout the country as independently curated, highly valuable sites for remembering, owned and operated by the communities they document. These community-based archives are independent, grassroots alternatives to mainstream repositories through which communities make collective decisions about what is of enduring value to them, shape collective memory of their own pasts, and control the means through which stories about their past are constructed.  Such organizations are often created in response to minoritized communities being shut out of dominant historical narratives created by mainstream memory institutions.
How can such community-based archives participate in national strategies to digitize and make available materials documenting marginalized communities? What are the social, cultural and technological barriers to participation and what are the benefits? How might national digital strategies leverage materials in community-based archives in order to diversify the digital record while at the same time respecting community-based autonomy and authority?
These are the questions explored by a consortium of community-based archives awarded a $100,000 National Forum Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project, "Diversifying the Digital Historical Record: Integrating Community Archives in National Strategies for Access to Digital Cultural Heritage" is led by The Amistad Research Center, in collaboration with the Shorefront Legacy Center, the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), Mukurtu, and Inland Empire Memories at the University of California, Riverside.
This core group represents a variety of collaborators with different institutional and independent missions who share the goal of increasing representation within our digital cultural history, and who represent the geographic, organizational, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the United States. The Inland Empire Memories Initiative is a collecting program centered at the University of California, Riverside Libraries, while the Shorefront Legacy Center and the Amistad Research Center represent independent archival institutions, each with a focus on documenting underrepresented communities both locally (Shorefront & the Chicago area) and nationally (Amistad). SAADA has used a post-custodial, digital-only approach to document the experiences of South Asian Americans, while Mukurtu is an open source content management system built with indigenous communities to manage and share digital cultural heritage.
In addition to the organizations planning and implementing the project, several other community archives have been invited to participate as presenters or invited guests in a series of public forums across the United States, which began in October 2016 and will end in October 2017. These public forums are focusing on community archives integration in a national digital platform with the goal of increasing representation of marginalized communities and people in our national digital cultural heritage. It is the first project to run a series of public forums across the country designed to critically engage in community-engaged and solutions-based conversations around the future of community archives and digital cultural heritage.
2 Literature Review
Although much of the scholarship documenting community archives has been based in the U.K., a growing body of literature in the U.S. addresses the trajectories of such organizations and projects in the U.S.  While definitions of community are contextual and shifting, Flinn, Stevens, and Shepherd define community as "any manner of people who come together and present themselves as such, and a 'community archive' is the product of their attempts to document the history of their commonality."  Archival communities can materialize around ethnic, racial, or religious identities,  gender and sexual orientation,  economic status,  and physical locations.  As U.K.-based archival scholars Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, and Elizabeth Shepherd note, independent grassroots archival efforts first sprung up in response to the political and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Flinn and Stevens position community archives as parts of larger social and political movements whereby groups who have been ignored, misrepresented or marginalized by mainstream archival repositories launch their own archival projects as means of self-representation, identity construction, and empowerment. 
In the American context, the majority of the staff and volunteers of these community archives are usually members of underrepresented groups. In maintaining independence and encouraging participation, these archives strive to provide a platform in which previously marginalized groups are empowered to make decisions about archival collecting on their own terms. Flinn, Stevens and Shepherd found that political activism, community empowerment, and social change were prime motivating factors undergirding these fiercely independent archival efforts.  In this light, the creation of community archives can be seen as a form of political protest in that it is an attempt to seize the means by which history is written and correct or amend dominant stories about the past. Flinn and Stevens assert: "...The endeavor by individuals and social groups to document their history, particularly if that history has been generally subordinated or marginalized, is political and subversive. These 'recast' histories and their making challenge and seek to undermine both the distortions and omissions of orthodox historical narratives, as well as the archive and heritage collections that sustain them."  In this way, community archives are responses not only to the omissions of history as the official story written by a guild of professional historians, but the omissions of memory institutions writ large, and can thus be read as a direct challenge to the failure of mainstream repositories to collect a more diverse representation of society.
It is important to note here that the term "community archives" is a general umbrella term under which a host of different types of projects may fit. Community archives can range from entirely independent, permanent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations dedicated solely to archival endeavors, to archival projects within larger community organizations, to informal, loosely defined, temporary configurations of community members dedicated to shaping collective memory of a community's past. As such, the term "community archives" can be seen as an external imposition by archival studies scholars rather than emerging organically from within such community efforts.
The archives profession in the U.S. is only now coming to terms with this burgeoning community archives movement. In the realm of practice, the rise of community archives has meant a reframing of the functions of appraisal, description and access to align with community-specific priorities, reflect contingent cultural values, and allow for greater participation in archival decision-making.  Community input into archives has also led to conceptual shifts, as Chris Hurley developed the notion of "parallel provenance" to better accommodate Indigenous Australian perspectives on record creation, Joel Wurl advocated for ethnicity as a form of provenance, and Jeannette Bastian echoed calls to expand the core archival concept of provenance to include descendants of the subjects of records. . Terry Cook has even declared that the recent emphasis on community constitutes a paradigm shift in the field, akin to previous conceptual guideposts like evidence and memory. 
Although community archives are thriving, they have largely been left out of national projects to bring more access to digital collections. Ongoing conversations about documenting and providing access to a shared past through a national digital platform should include community archives because they are an effective means of diversifying digital collections in cultural heritage spaces to more accurately represent the diversity of the United States. In a recent report  on the National Digital Platform, IMLS acknowledged that including content that represents the full diversity of the United States will be a priority. Holding inclusive and broadly accessible conversations on the topic of community archives will inform this IMLS priority by gathering community archives curators and practitioners, community members, scholars and digital collections leaders to discuss broader inclusion of these types of materials in national efforts that seek to represent U.S. cultural heritage in digital spaces. By engaging and listening to the voices of marginalized communities in national conversations around the materials they collect, IMLS can help ensure that traditionally absent voices will be represented as a National Digital Platform continues to be developed.
There are currently no other formal projects that bring together community archives practitioners as such. In fact, in recent research conducted at a wide range of community archives in Southern California, Michelle Caswell et al.  found that very few community archives practitioners even knew of each other's institutions, let alone actively collaborate or share best practices, despite the success of more formal professional networks such as LA as Subject or Los Angeles Archivists Collective, for example. Similarly, there are no formal mechanisms in place for local community archives to dialogue with national organizations that are building wide-reaching platforms. "Diversifying the Digital Historical Record" fills this gap by placing community archives in dialogue with each other and with decision makers informing the development of a National Digital Platform and other national efforts to increase access to and knowledge of our digital cultural heritage.
3 Goals and Impact
The "Diversifying the Digital Historical Record" project has three major goals that will be significant for the future development of community archives and their impact on our national digital cultural heritage. In addition to being a launching point for critical conversations around the materials that make up our national digital cultural heritage and exploring challenges and opportunities for making those materials more representative, the goals of the project are also centered around developing effective and sustainable networks of community archives and increasing collaboration between community archives and large-scale digital cultural heritage projects.
Goal 1: Creating a Space for Critical Conversations
The Diversifying the Digital Historical Record project will provide a public space for critical conversations about the makeup of our cultural heritage, including the digital, with the goal of addressing representation and the lack of diversity in those collections. Community archives are an effective means of diversifying the materials in our cultural heritage spaces and the opportunity to hold conversations in a public forum with representatives from community archives, traditional cultural heritage organizations and institutions, national digital initiatives and funders, will provide an opportunity for open and honest conversations that can lead to effective and sustainable solutions. The conversations will critically address, among other issues, the current state of diversity in the profession, and diversity and inclusion in relation to collections appraisal, collection development, community engagement, and funding.
Goal 2: Developing Effective and Sustainable Networks
As community archives collections, projects, and consortiums continue to grow in the United States, it will be vitally important that they define themselves, connect with each other and connect with larger, more traditional collecting initiatives, especially digital, as a way to increase knowledge of their holdings, share resources to support future growth and programming, and to introduce the cultural heritage materials they hold to a wider audience. While many community archives grew out of the necessity to include their stories in the national collective memory, a siloed existence does not support goals of diversifying the historical record. Community archives have the opportunity to truly realize their potential if they can develop a network to advance their goals. The Diversifying the Digital Historical Record project will create an opportunity for the important conversations leading to these effective types of networks to be developed.
Goal 3: Increasing Collaboration with National Digital Initiatives
An important goal of the Diversifying the Digital Historical Record project will be to design strategies for increased collaboration with inclusion in national digital initiatives such as the National Digital Platform. In the past three years, organizations like the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), HathiTrust and the Digital Preservation Network have developed incredibly robust and connected models for sharing cultural heritage materials. Both representatives of such initiatives and community archives practitioners and organizations will be invited to participate in this project in order to discuss effective means for future collaboration. We believe collaborations between community archives and national digital projects will have significant impact on what materials are represented in national digital library efforts and what communities are included in future conversations on national digital initiatives.
These goals will be achieved through four open and collaborative community archives forums. The conversations are recorded and transcribed. After all four forums, the transcripts will be analyzed for emerging themes in order to uncover the participants' attitudes, needs, and thoughts about participation in a national digital platform. A white paper summarizing the conversations and proposing future directions for community archives’ continued development and collaboration with national digital initiatives will be prepared and made available publicly at the end of the grant period. Below, we summarize the key themes that emerged out of the first two forums and describe what the later two forums aim to address.
4 Preliminary Findings: Emerging Themes
The Diversifying the Digital Historical Record project forums address different topics related to integrating community archives with national digital initiatives. Each forum is being held in a different city to allow for as much geographic diversity as possible. In addition to invited presenters and guests, each forum is being livestreamed to broaden the conversations, ideas, and suggestions that arise out of the discussions held at each forum. Recordings of each forum are also being made available through the project's website. To date, two of the four forums have been held: one in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
The first forum, "Definition, Commonalities and Divergences: What are community archives?" was held on the campus of UCLA and hosted by SAADA and Inland Empire Memories in October 2016. This forum focused on defining community archives and the ways community archives define themselves. Community archives are diverse in several ways including the ethnic, racial, cultural and gender communities they represent, their size, and whether they are independent organizations or collaborative efforts. This forum provided an opportunity to introduce the public to the diverse types of community archives that exist in the United States and to learn about their history, the work they do and types of collections they hold. Key to this forum is the opportunity to gain deeper understanding of community archives, as well as their challenges and opportunities. This forum is a vital first step in laying the groundwork for developing effective, collaborative and sustainable networks.
Forum One included representation from a wide range of organizations from the Los Angeles and Southern California region, as well as community archives managers and supporters from other regions of the United States. Participants ranged from small, independent recent start-up community archives like the Compton Historical Society and the Studio for Southern California History to independent organizations such as the Southern California Library that has served South LA for more than 50 years and the university-affiliated Southeast Asian Archive at UC-Irvine. Project partners South Asian American Digital Archive and the Mukurtu project also attended.
The forum began with two keynote speakers, Jen LaBarbera from the Lambda LTBTQ Archives in San Diego and Jarrett Drake of the People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, Ohio. LaBarbera discussed her own shift from activist to archivist/activist and how archivists can inspire activists to use historical collections to connect with past activism efforts. Drake discussed how dominant access and collection policies further alienate vulnerable people such as people of color and replicate surveillance and incarceration regimes. He then encouraged all in attendance to envision liberatory archives as a model.
The keynote speakers were followed by a series of presentations focusing on the development of the various community archives projects in attendance and addressing the question of defining community archives. While several scholars and practitioners provided definitions of community archives that focused on community autonomy in making archival decisions and community control, there was no single definition that emerged. Attention was placed on the idea that any definition of community archive should be broad enough to encompass different types of organizational structures.
Themes that emerged from Forum One included issues of identity, politics, standards, and collaboration. Many panelists discussed the relationship between community archives and identity, be that racial, ethnic, political, geographic, gender, or sexual identity. Identity and identity construction emerged as a constant theme in community archives, regardless of organizational structure, affiliation with a larger dominant institution or independence, or funding models. Some of the panelists presented a caution against respectability politics in collecting, that is, collecting only celebratory assimilationist success stories rather than creating space for counter narratives and counter-counter narratives that challenge and resist dominant narratives. There was some really productive discussion about how community archives craft stories that can be just as damaging as those created by dominant institutions or that can be liberatory. In a group discussion, a heated debate emerged about standards and the applicability or desirability of employing dominant descriptive and technical standards for community-based practice. Some felt very strongly that standards do violence to non-dominant ways of thinking and being and organization knowledge, while others argued that standards in and of themselves are not the problem, but how they have been constructed and used, by whom and for what ends, that has done violence. Some felt a different kind of standard was necessary, while others felt the idea of standards was not recuperable. There was also a sense of the need for each community archives staff and volunteers to figure out when to work collaboratively, that is, when their needs and best practices overlap, when they can share resources and technology and methods and even projects, and when, instead, practice must be rooted firmly in the identity and world view of the community we represent and work with.
The second forum, "Technology: Benefits and Barriers for Community Archives for Providing Wider Access to Digital Content" was held in New Orleans in January 2017, hosted by the Amistad Research Center. This forum focused on the technological infrastructure needs of community archives in terms of addressing collection building, collections access, interoperability, outreach and programming. This forum fit well with IMLS' priority to enhance and build interoperable tools and services. Community archives are traditionally under-resourced and technology deficient efforts, that, while fully connected to the communities they serve, remain disconnected from innovative, well-funded, and technologically rich digital initiatives. The forum explored the current landscape of technology use by community archives, discussed digital collections technology that community archives can take advantage of, and began to develop a plan for potential implementation of effective actions that can lead to more innovative use of technology for advancing accessibility of digital collections held by community archives.
Forum two was held at the Old U.S. Mint, part of the Louisiana State Museum system, and included representatives from community archives projects throughout the South, leading technologists working with and as part of libraries and archives, as well as organizations funding and supporting digitization. Community archives projects included small, independent organizations such as the Flat Rock Archives in Georgia and the Houma Language Project and the River Road African American Museum in Louisiana, as well as community archives initiatives at the Austin History Center in Texas and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama, and the university-partnered-projects NOLA Hiphop Archive and the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum at Delta State University. Those working in the field of digitization included representatives from Historypin, The Digital Library Federation and Tulane University, while staff from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library and Information Resources discussed financial and professional support for community archives.
This forum consisted of three roundtable discussions addressing the technological needs, barriers, and benefits of community archives. These discussions focused on three areas: current technology use among community archives, collaborations between community archives and academic/governmental institutions, and means of supporting community archives through funding and professional agencies. These panels then became the basis for thematic breakout sessions that allowed participants to delve more fully into the topics and questions that emerged out of the roundtables.
Topics and themes that emerged from Forum Two included uses of technology, collaboration, and funding structures. First, a session on technology use among community archives addressed the challenge of rural communities, particularly those in the South, in accessing technology and how that may affect community archiving efforts. Capacity of organizations, as well as the lack of training and IT infrastructure, were mentioned as major concerns. Even if community archives do have some capacity for small scale digital projects, sustainability in terms of storage, preservation, and staffing, is seen as an issue as such projects may be grant funded, and therefore supported for the short term. Larger digital initiatives were described as often seeking to serve a common range of partner needs, but failing to address the needs of small, individual institutions.
Secondly, collaborations between community archives and academic or governmental entities offer both benefits and challenges. While institutions can provide more capacity and infrastructure support, they may have a wider mission than that of community archives partners. Efforts must be made to assist institutions in understanding the fundamental importance of community archiving efforts to their communities, while such community-based projects must consider the benefits and costs of potentially being incorporated into a larger institution and joining a wider range of collections, outreach initiatives, and programs. Formal agreements and transparency between partners are essential, while compromise and the flattening of hierarchies is encouraged. Community archives often have a specific, sometimes localized, focus and should not be viewed as providing a monolithic view into larger communities, be they ethnic, cultural, etc.
Finally, the role of funding agencies in increasing diversity in digital projects and providing stability for community archives was a central aspect of the final panel. Differences between funding programs federal versus independent non-profit, direct granting versus re-granting can shape those programs' abilities in these areas. The suggestion was made for beginning to support the idea of "shared stewardship," rather than "ownership," of culturally or community-relevant collections and resources. Questions arose of federal agencies, such as NEH or IMLS, assisting community archives with daily operations rather than funding specific initiatives. This is often based on accountability of those agencies to document discernible outcomes, which block grants cannot always do. The need for, and ability of, funding agencies to support professional development and training was discussed based on comments earlier in the day. Specific funding support available through the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library and Information Resources were given as examples and representatives from both organizations discussed increased efforts to promote and share news about funded projects in order to assist networking among similar community archives efforts.
Across both forums, it became clear that community archives participants are generally not interested in putting digitized material in a single national digital platform because they strive to maintain autonomy over and control access to digitized materials in their care in line with the particular values and protocols of the communities they represent and serve. However, participants are very interested in creating a national network of community archives organizations and practitioners, as well as a structured online space to share best practices, workflows, models, technological infrastructure, and resources. Looking ahead, the next two forums will provide further direction on what such a network and digital space would entail.
5 Ongoing Work: Objectives of Upcoming Forums
Forum 3, "Collaboration and Networks: Benefits for Community Archives & Libraries, Archives, Museums," will be held in Evanston, IL near Chicago in May 2017 and will be hosted by the Shorefront Legacy Center. The forum will address IMLS' call for radical and systemic collaboration to support the National Digital Platform by investigating collaborative efforts for accessibility to digital cultural heritage, and significant opportunities for community archives to explore collaborative partnerships both within and outside of their own communities. Efforts at building strong networks of community archives locally, regionally and nationally will be examined through conversations around interoperability, linked data, and digital collections preservation and access.
Forum 4, "Integration: Why and how to address integration with national digital collections initiatives?" will be held in New York, NY in October 2017 and will be hosted by New York University. This forum will focus on strategies and recommended practices for community archives to integrate with national digital initiatives. Community archives are traditionally and understandably very independent entities, generally serving single communities and growing out of necessity because of exclusion. Critical conversations such as how do we begin to think about integrating community archives collections, organizations, and projects with national digital initiatives while allowing for the individuality and independence of those entities to continue to flourish will be discussed. Such conversations will require sensitivity to cultural protocols, traditional practices, and local conditions governing collection, preservation and access to community archives materials, and this forum will provide a safe space for those conversations to take place.
Although these forums are first steps in what we hope will be a long-term strategy for sustaining collaboration between community archives, they have thus far been extremely productive for establishing a network of community-based practitioners and organizations. How such a network will be further developed and formalized and to what ends is the subject of ongoing conversation. Yet, despite the diversity of organizations represented and issues addressed at the forums thus far, it is clear that community-based archives contain a rich wealth of materials that are crucial for understanding the full breadth of the country's cultural heritage and must be included in any national conversation about preservation, digitization, and access strategies.
||Jeannette Bastian and Ben Alexander, "Introduction: Communities and Archives-A Symbiotic Relationship," Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory (London: Facet, 2009); Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, and Elizabeth Shepherd, "Whose Memories, Whose Archives? Independent Community Archives, Autonomy, and the Mainstream," Archival Science 9 (2009): 71-86. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-009-9105-2; Dominique Daniel, "Documenting the Immigrant and Ethnic Experience in American Archives," American Archivist 73:1 (2010): 82-104. https://doi.org/10.17723/aarc.73.1.k2837h27wv1201hv; Terry Cook, "Evidence, Memory, Identity, and Community: Four Shifting Archival Paradigms," Archival Science 13 (2013): 95-120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-012-9180-7
||Gilliland, Anne J. and Andrew Flinn. "The Wonderful and Frightening World of Community Archives: What Are We Really Talking About?" Keynote address, Nexus, Confluence, and Difference: Community Archives meets Community Informatics: Prato CIRN Conference Oct 28-30 2013, Centre for Social Informatics, Monash University.
||Flinn, Stevens, and Shepherd: 75.
||Elizabeth Kaplan, "We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are: Archives
and the Construction of Identity," American Archivist 63 (2000): 126-151. https://doi.org/10.17723/aarc.63.1.h554377531233l05; Dominique Daniel, "Documenting the Immigrant and Ethnic Experience in American Archives". American Archivist 71 (2010): 82-104. https://doi.org/10.17723/aarc.73.1.k2837h27wv1201hv; Michelle Caswell, "Seeing Yourself in History: Community Archives in the Fight Against Symbolic Annihilation," The Public Historian 36(4) November 2014: 26-37. https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2014.36.4.26
||Marcel Barriault, "Archiving the Queer and Queering the Archives: A Case Study of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives," Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory. (London: Facet, 2009).
||Andrew Flinn and Mary Stevens, "'It Is Nohmistri, Wimekin History.' Telling Our Own Story: Independent and Community Archives in the UK, Challenging and Subverting the Mainstream," in Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory, Bastian J and Alexander B (eds) (London: Facet, 2009) pp. 3-28.
||Flinn, Stevens, and Shepherd, 2009.
||Flinn and Stevens, 2009: 3-4.
||Katie Shilton and Ramesh Srinivasan, "Participatory Appraisal and Arrangement for Multicultural Archival Collections," Archivaria 63 (2007): 87-101.
||Chris Hurley, "Parallel Provenance: What If Anything is Archival Description?" Archives and Manuscripts 33(1), 2005: 110-145; Joel Wurl, "Ethnicity as Provenance: In Search of Values and Principles for Documenting the Immigrant Experience," Archival Issues 29 (2005): 65-76; Jeannette Bastian, Owning Memory: How a Caribbean Community Lost its Archives and Found its History. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003).
||Terry Cook (2013).
||Erway, Ricky, Chrystie Hill, Sharon Streams, and Steph Harmon (comp.), "IMLS Focus: The National Digital Platform for Libraries, Archives and Museums."
||Caswell, Michelle, Alda Allina Migoni, Noah Geraci, and Marika Cifor, "'To Be Able to Imagine Otherwise': Community Archives and the Importance of Representation." Archives and Records 2016 (special issue on public history): 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/23257962.2016.1260445
About the Authors
Michelle Caswell is Assistant Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. She is the author of Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014). Her articles on archives, social justice, and collective memory of trauma have appeared in Archival Science, Archivaria, The American Archivist, The Journal of Documentation, InterActions, First Monday and Libri. She is also the co-founder of the South Asian American Digital Archive, an online repository that documents and provides access to the diverse stories of South Asian Americans.
Christopher Harter is the Director of Library and Reference Services at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has previously worked as a librarian/archivist at the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana University-Bloomington's Lilly Library, and the University of Illinois. At the Amistad Research Center, he oversees reference services and outreach efforts, including digitization projects, exhibitions, and bibliographic instruction, as well as the collection management of the Amistad's library collections. His current research explores the formation of community archiving efforts in New Orleans during the 1960s. He serves as the Project Director for the Diversifying the Digital Historical Record project.
Bergis Jules is an archivist at the University of California, Riverside. He is also a doctoral student focusing on public history in the University of California, Riverside's History Department. He has experience both in leading projects for community archives and developing and securing funding for new community archives initiatives. Some of these include leading collections processing and survey projects at the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, designing and securing funding for the D.C. Africana Archives Project, and leading community outreach and funding efforts for the Inland Empire Memories project. His interests and research on community-based archives include resource accessibility, national collaborative efforts, and digital infrastructure.