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Saturday, April 6 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
S902 Archiving Unheard Voices: Community-Based and Participatory Oral History Projects

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Five oral history projects of diverse, “unheard” communities in Michigan will provide examples of ways to reach out to underserved populations and thus enrich the broader community. Three of these diverse communities are: 
  • “Gi-gikinomaage-min (We are all Teachers)” by Grand Valley State University records the memories and experiences of those individuals who lived through the Urban Relocation Program of American Indians and those who worked to build new Native American organizations, support structures, and community in urban spaces. 
  • "Arab Diaspora in Times of War" - Yemeni immigrant and Syrian refugee projects capture the unique experiences of youth and adults, and address the challenges of misconceptions of ethnic populations through personal stories, artistic expression and dialog. 
  • “Black Voices in the Copper Country,” investigates the social and cultural history of African Americans with collected oral histories by the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. 
These projects involved coordinating with local organizations and academic institutions to promote a unique and innovative means of preserving a community’s cultural heritage through the authentic voice of oral histories.  Community archives are imagined as spaces where the community members and archivists can collaborate as equals, sharing and exchanging knowledge. However, many of the case studies presented in the literature uphold traditional relationships between archives and community, preserving the role of the institutional archive as the collector and preserver of community histories. Two of our presentations posit community archives, as archival projects that are initiated, controlled, and maintained by the members of a self-defined community. By this definition, community archives can be differentiated from participatory archives or community-focused initiatives more commonly described in the archival literature. This presentation will introduce the Transgender Oral History Project of Iowa and their digital archive as an example a community archive fully controlled and maintained by community members. Exemplifying the ability to queer the archive at the local level, the Transgender Oral History Project of Iowa offers a case study of how communities engaging in archival practice choose to protect and preserve their history. We emerge with new questions regarding the role of professional archivists when they serve as mentors, not protectors of the archive.


Camron Amin

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Melanie Shell-Weiss

Grand Valley State University

Tammy Barnes Apmann

Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Lindsay Hiltunen

Michigan Technological University

Aiden Bettine

History Dept, University of Iowa
avatar for Lindsay Mattock

Lindsay Mattock

Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of Iowa
Lindsay Mattock is an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science. Her work focuses on the archival practices of non-institutional archival spaces, such as media collectives and community archives. Her ongoing digital project, Mapping the... Read More →

Saturday April 6, 2019 10:30am - 12:00pm CDT
Mackinac Ballroom