Written by Sarah Calise, graduate assistant
The recent protest movements spearheaded by #BlackLivesMatter organizers forced archivists throughout the country to reevaluate how extensively they are capturing and preserving these historic moments as they unfold. As protests extend from the streets to college campuses, university archivists must become active collectors of material from the community of students, faculty, administration, and surrounding local residents. One of the leading projects has come out of partnerships between Washington University in St. Louis and city organizations in the development of Documenting Ferguson, an online archival repository that preserves and makes accessible “the digital media captured and created by community members following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014.” University archives projects continue to grow and strive to put the voices of students at the forefront.
Jarrett M. Drake, digital archivist at Princeton University’s Mudd Manuscript Library, recently published a blog post describing the launch of ASAP: Archiving Student Activism at Princeton. The post is a worthwhile read as Drake challenges university archivists to question the purpose of their existence. He states, “I break down our tasks as archivists to this: select, save, and serve. The focus on gathering records of student activism connects directly to our first function, which is to select historical materials.” The Albert Gore Research Center agrees that the courageous activism of our students matters significantly to the history of the Middle Tennessee State University and to its archives.
Starting this semester, I will be building an online archive about student activism surrounding Forrest Hall and other confederate controversies on MTSU’s campus in collaboration with Walker Library’s digital collections. Stay tuned for updates throughout the semester. If you would like to donate photographs, videos, written documents, or other materials–physical or digital–please visit us in Todd Hall in 128 or email Donna Baker at Donna.Baker@mtsu.edu.