“Something that feels like a community”: the role of personal stories in building community-based participatory archives

Abstract

Our research aims to explore the personal contexts of community-based participatory archive contributors by unveiling the stories behind the objects the contributors donate to the archives. These stories are historical and valuable in intent because they provide rich evidence about and insights into the past from the perspective of the community members. Using the Mass. Memories Road Show as a case study, we analyzed interviews with individuals who contributed photographs that provide a snapshot of their community to the community-based participatory archives. We employed a grounded theory approach to categorize the photographs contributed and identify themes from the memories and sentiments evoked from the stories behind the photographs. The results of this study demonstrate how people perceive and appraise their past life memories and how their surrounding community influences the formation of community-based participatory archives. This study sheds light on how individuals make connections to their communities through their personal objects and stories.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    https://www.mainememory.net/.

  2. 2.

    https://www.baltimoreuprising2015.org/.

  3. 3.

    http://digital.wustl.edu/ferguson/.

  4. 4.

    http://openarchives.umb.edu/.

  5. 5.

    The Mass. Memories Road Show collection currently includes contributions from 46 communities across the state of Massachusetts; it contains over 9000 images and more than 1000 videos.

References

  1. Albrechtslund AM (2010) Gamers telling stories: understanding narrative practices in an online community. Convergence 16(1):112–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Aptekar S (2017) Looking forward, looking back: collective memory and neighborhood identity in two urban parks. Symb Interact 40(1):101–121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ashmore P, Craggs R, Neate H (2012) Working-with: talking and sorting in personal archives. J Hist Geogr 38(1):81–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bastian JA (2003) Owning memory: how a Caribbean community lost its archives and found its history. Libraries Unlimited, Westport

    Google Scholar 

  5. Blunt A (2003) Collective memory and productive nostalgia: Anglo-Indian homemaking at McCluskieganj. Environ Plan D Soc Space 21(6):717–738

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bonnett A, Alexander C (2013) Mobile nostalgias: connecting visions of the urban past, present and future amongst ex-residents. Trans Inst Br Geogr 38(3):391–402. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00531.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brown KL (2016) On the participatory archive: the formation of the Eastern Kentucky African American migration project. South Cult 22(1):113–127. https://doi.org/10.1353/scu.2016.0002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Casey ES (2009) Remembering: a phenomenological study, 2nd edn. Indiana University Press, Bloomington

    Google Scholar 

  9. Caswell M, Cifor M, Ramirez MH (2016) “To suddenly discover yourself existing”: uncovering the impact of community archives. Am Arch 79(1):6–81

    Google Scholar 

  10. Charmaz K (2014) Constructing grounded theory. SAGE, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  11. Chen KK (2012) Charismatizing the routine: storytelling for meaning and agency in the Burning Man organization. Qual Sociol 35(3):311–334

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cifor M (2016) Affecting relations: introducing affect theory to archival discourse. Arch Sci 16(1):7–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-015-9261-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cifor M, Gilliland AJ (2016) Affect and the archive, archives and their affects: an introduction to the special issue. Arch Sci 16(1):1–6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-015-9263-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cook T (2013) Evidence, memory, identity, and community: four shifting archival paradigms. Arch Sci 13(2):95–120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-012-9180-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cox RJ (2008) Personal archives and a new archival calling: readings, reflections and ruminations. Litwin Books, Duluth

    Google Scholar 

  16. Crang M (1996) Envisioning urban histories: Bristol as palimpsest, postcards, and snapshots. Environ Plan A Econ Space 28(3):429–452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cushing AL (2018) “We’ve no problem inheriting that knowledge on to other people”: exploring the characteristics of motivation for attending a participatory archives event. Libr Inf Sci Res 40(2):135–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2018.06.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Douglas J (2017) Getting personal: personal archives in archival programs and curricula. Educ Inf 33:89–105

    Google Scholar 

  19. Emery J (2018) Belonging, memory and history in the north Nottinghamshire coalfield. J Hist Geogr 59:77–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Eveleigh A (2012) Welcoming the world: an exploration of participatory archives. http://ica2012.ica.org/files/pdf/Full%20papers%20upload/ica12Final00128.pdf. Accessed 24 Jan 2019

  21. Eveleigh A (2014) Crowding out the archivist? Locating crowdsourcing within the broader landscape of participatory archives. In: Ridge M (ed) Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage. Ashgate, Farnham, pp 211–212

    Google Scholar 

  22. Flinn A (2007) Community histories, community archives: some opportunities and challenges. J Soc Arch 28(2):151–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Frisch M (1990) A shared authority: essays on the craft and meaning of oral and public history. State University of New York Press, Albany

    Google Scholar 

  24. Frisch M (2011) From a shared authority to the digital kitchen, and back. In: Adair B, Filene B, Koloski L (eds) Letting go? Sharing historical authority in a user-generated world. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, pp 126–137

    Google Scholar 

  25. Gilliland AJ (2012) Contemplating co-creator rights in archival description. Knowl Organ 9(5):340–346. https://doi.org/10.5771/0943-7444-2012-5-340

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Glaser BG, Strauss A (1967) A discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. Sociology Press, Mill Valley

    Google Scholar 

  27. Halbwachs M (1992) On collective memory (trans and ed: Coser LA). University of Chicago Press, Chicago

  28. Halilovich H (2016) Re-imaging and re-imagining the past after ‘memoricide’: intimate archives as inscribed memories of the missing. Arch Sci 16(1):77–92

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hoelscher S, Alderman DH (2004) Memory and place: geographies of a critical relationship. Soc Cult Geogr 5(3):347–355. https://doi.org/10.1080/1464936042000252769

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Huvila I (2008) Participatory archive: towards decentralised curation, radical user orientation, and broader contextualisation of records management. Arch Sci 8(1):5–36

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Huvila I (2015) The unbearable lightness of participating? Revisiting the discourses of “participation” in archival literature. J Doc 71(2):358–386

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Ketelaar E (2005) Sharing, collected memories in communities of records. Arch Manuscr 33(1):44–61

    Google Scholar 

  33. Ketelaar E (2009) A living archive, shared by communities of records. In: Bastian JA, Alexander B (eds) Community archives: the shaping of memory. Facet, London, pp 109–132

    Google Scholar 

  34. Little H (2011) Identifying the genealogical self. Arch Sci 11(3–4):241–252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Luz N (2008) The politics of sacred places: Palestinian identity, collective memory, and resistance in the Hassan Bek mosque conflict. Environ Plan D Soc Space 26(6):1036–1052. https://doi.org/10.1068/d2508

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. McCracken K (2015) Community archival practice: indigenous grassroots collaboration at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. Am Arch 78(1):181–191

    Google Scholar 

  37. McQuaid SD (2017) Parading memory and re-member-ing conflict: collective memory in transition in Northern Ireland. Int J Polit Cult Soc 30(1):23–41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-015-9210-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Megill A (2011) From “history, memory, identity”. In: Olick JK, Vinitzky-Seroussi V, Levy D (eds) The collective memory reader. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 193–197

    Google Scholar 

  39. O’Reilly D, Doherty K, Carnegie E, Larsen G (2017) Cultural memory and the heritagisation of a music consumption community. Arts Mark 7(2):174–190. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAM-08-2016-0014

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Punzalan R (2009) ‘All the things we cannot articulate’: colonial leprosy archives and community commemoration. In: Bastian JA, Alexander B (eds) Community archives: the shaping of memory. Facet, London, pp 199–219

    Google Scholar 

  41. Raymond CM, Brown G, Weber D (2010) The measurement of place attachment: personal, community, and environmental connections. J Environ Psychol 30(4):422–434

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Rolan G (2017) Agency in the archive: a model for participatory recordkeeping. Arch Sci 17(3):195–225. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-016-9267-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Rosenzweig R, Thelen DP (1998) The presence of the past: popular uses of history in American life. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  44. Roued-Cunliffe H, Copeland A (eds) (2017) Participatory heritage. Facet, London

    Google Scholar 

  45. Sexton A, Sen D (2018) More voice, less ventriloquism–exploring the relational dynamics in a participatory archive of mental health recovery. Int J Herit Stud 24(8):874–888

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Shilton K, Srinivasan R (2007) Participatory appraisal and arrangement for multicultural archival collections. Archivaria 63:87–101

    Google Scholar 

  47. Sieck K (2013) Move me: on stories, rituals, and building brand communities. In: Cefkin M, Bezaitis M, Mack A, Anderson K (eds) EPIC 2013: ethnographic praxis in industry conference proceedings, 15–18 September 2013, London, England. American Anthropological Association, Arlington, pp 104–115

    Google Scholar 

  48. Stewart K (2007) Ordinary affects. University Press, Durham

    Google Scholar 

  49. The Mass Memories Road Show (2016) The Mass. Memories Road Show project handbook: a planning guide for local communities. University of Massachusetts Boston, Joseph P. Healey Library, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  50. Wick A (2018) We’re all vegans here: the twenty-first century archival ecosystem. J Arch Organ. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332748.2018

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Yakel E, Torres D (2007) Genealogists as a “community of records”. Am Arch 70(1):93–113

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who took the time to provide us with the constructive feedback that strengthened our manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ana Roeschley.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Roeschley, A., Kim, J. “Something that feels like a community”: the role of personal stories in building community-based participatory archives. Arch Sci 19, 27–49 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-019-09302-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Community
  • Community archives
  • Participatory archives
  • Memory
  • Collective memory
  • Communities of records
  • Documentation projects