A web-based community-building archives project: A case study of kids in birmingham 1963.
Anderson, Laura c
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Recent archival literature on social justice emphasizes activism—the importance of documenting social activism and activists, and activists’ use of archives for promoting social justice. Left out of these discussions is the role archives can play in helping to capture the experiences of bystanders—passive participants—during times of tumultuous social change. Recording those stories provides a more nuanced view of times of great change in society and helps people place their own experiences in historic context. Civil rights activists and their opponents’ racist violence in 20th century at Birmingham, Alabama, in the USA, have been well documented. The experiences of passive participants have not been entered into the historic record. This case study examines a web-based hybrid heritage project that provides a forum for people raised in Birmingham to share their experiences in the watershed year, 1963. Kids in Birmingham 1963 (referred to as Kids) contain curated first-person accounts and educational tools. The project acts as a clearinghouse, proactively marketing its content and making its contributors available for direct interviews with the media, educators, and students. The Kids project has created a new community that could not have existed 50 years ago because of segregation. Contributors and users find benefits in opportunities to inspire younger generations to join the cause for social justice. The authors propose using the techniques employed in this project and its sister project, Desegregation of Virginia Education, to develop a model that can enable communities to create a rich historical record and make it widely available through mass media, social media, and educational outlets.