Community Archives

What is a community archive?

A community archive is an archive created by the community whose artifacts are being archived. This may happen in collaboration with a professional archivist or solely through community members, but in this model, community members will typically exert more control over the preservation and telling of their stories and artifacts.

If you’re interested in DONATING to a community archive, consider…

Many of the questions you will need to ask are similar to those you would ask of an institutional archive, which you can find here.

Additionally, you may want to inquire about the “take down” policy of anything you donate: What if you no longer wish for the public to have access to an artifact? Or if the archive no longer has funding?

If you’re interested in CREATING a community archive, consider…

Connection: What is your connection to the activist community you wish to archive? How involved does the community want you to be in the archiving process? What stories of activism do you want to tell (people, time periods, geographical areas)?

Format: Do you want to create a physical archive for visitors to experience in-person, or a digital archive that they can access anytime? Or both? What platforms would best display the artifacts you wish to make public?

Networks: Is there a larger social movement that you want your archive to be connected to? Are you interested in reaching out to similar archives to collaborate?

Access: What will be your archive‚Äôs policies regarding publication and duplication of materials? If you are planning a digital archive, what will your “take down” policy be for sensitive or copyrighted material?

Sustainability: How will you continue to fund your community archive? How will you document where items are stored, how they are named, etc.? Who will take over the operations of the archive when they are eventually handed off to someone else?

Resources for creating community archives

Check out more tips, tools, and examples of community archives on our Additional Resources page