Women’s March on Washington Archives Project
Danielle Russell, Southern Maryland Studies Center
Katrina Vandeven, MLIS candidate at University of Denver
About the collection
We are a group of archivists stemming from the SAA Women Archivists Section (formerly roundtable) who, having discussed the social and political importance of the January 21, 2017 Women’s Marches, wanted to ensure the preservation of women’s voices and responses to politics and legislation in wake of the intensely controversial 2016 elections. With time to plan and strategize, we intend to document this in a way that captures the movement’s use of new-wave grassroots activism unlike other more spontaneous events in recent protest history.
Each march is connected to a larger movement of not only the Women’s March on Washington D.C., but also the grassroots activism making it possible. This has become a large part of early 21st century political history that advocates for human rights, standing against minority adversity, and full equality for women. The significance of these marches is reminiscent of the 1995 Rally for Women’s Lives and the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, and this mass action expects at least 150,000 protesters in Washington D.C., and over 250,000 people total in other individual marches. To learn more about the marches’ mission and principles, please visit https://www.womensmarch.com/mission/
Currently, we are working on a two-pronged approach: one repository for oral histories, and then finding state or regional level repositories for people who attend the national and sister marches. We have gotten a Facebook group (link here) going to create action plans, outreach email templates, etc.
On the physical materials side of the operation, we are looking for willing repositories for physical materials from the sister marches— generally, we are hoping for one state or regional repository to take physical materials collected at their respective state sister march (i.e. Boston, Austin, Des Moines). We’re hoping to nail down a singular repository who would be willing to house physical materials from the national march in D.C., too. The physical materials will be collected by a point-person volunteer at the sister march, which can either be a volunteer we prepare with deeds of gift, etc. or someone of the repository’s own choosing.
We are also collecting oral histories in order to document the local and national grassroots movement “Women’s March on Washington” to show the scope of the movement, the range of reasons women are marching, and so that diverse women’s political resistance may be documented in their own words as they are so often silenced and lost to history. Oral history expectations and standards are currently being drafted, and volunteer oral historians will meet virtually to make sure everyone is on the same page.
The end goal is to have an aggregate digital platform that will allow cohesive research. This way we can connect the materials at these various repositories without requiring one institution to take on all of the appraisal, processing, metadata, etc. The platform will most likely connect the digital materials (photographs, oral histories, etc.) first, strictly out of ease. However, we are hoping that as finding aids are created and as materials, eventually, are digitized, the project will have preserved and made accessible a wide array of materials documenting this impressive raising of diverse women’s voices across the United States, and even abroad.
What about this project or collection has been most rewarding?
We are creating this documentation/collecting strategy from the ground up which is incredibly invigorating as an activist, and working with professional archivists and archives students of various experiences and backgrounds has been amazing. It is also fascinating to see how other professions fit into the framework of helping us collect these materials== we have documentary film makers, photographers, and historians that want to help any way that they can!
What about this project or collection has been most challenging?
This kind of national-level coordination is basically new to all of us involved, which makes things tricky. We’re doing a large portion of our organizing via Facebook and Google Docs, and it’s all a learning process.
What tools/software/methods are you using in this project or collection?
We are using Google Drive and Open Science Framework (OSF) for storing the born digital materials (oral histories and photographs). Going forwards, tools and software are to be determined. We are looking at a variety of things like Omeka and Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS).
In regards to outreach methods, we are using a lot of social media, as well as a wide variety of listservs. We are also using Google Docs and Sheets in this planning stage.
Interested in getting involved?
Please let us know if you have any further questions, or suggestions! We are still working out some of the finer details at rapid pace, and questions force us to work some of those out before we know they exist. Join our Facebook group if you are interested in participating, and you can contact Danielle and Katrina at email@example.com
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