Digital Archives in Communities: Practice and Preservation

20-21 June 2018

Sussex Humanities Lab

Register at:

‘Digital Archives in Communities: Practice and Preservation’ is a two-day event at the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex. It is the first in a series of events that explore the challenge of long-term digital preservation in community archives. The programme of work led and organised by Dr Sharon Webb as part of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, will bridge the gap between community archives and the institutions with the means to provide (digital) infrastructural advice and support.

Community archives make a unique and crucial contribution to the creation of representative and cohesive narratives of cultural heritage. Such archives represent a concerted effort towards ensuring that histories of the marginalised and under-represented are recorded, captured and made accessible. By engaging with the practical imperatives of archiving, community members are inspired to take ownership of their individual and collective stories and, in doing so, raise the profile of those narratives in contemporary culture and memory. Yet whilst the power of community archives resides in their autonomy, self-governance, and independence, it is precisely these characteristics that can contribute to their precarity, due to an inability to sustain the requisite commitment over the long-term. In particular, maintaining digital archives, which contain born digital as well as digitised objects, is a complex undertaking which requires significant resources for an indefinite period. In 2017 the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) listed ‘Community Archives and Community Generated Content’ as a critically endangered digital species.

The aim of this two-day workshop is, therefore, to confront this challenge directly: to look at the current archival practices of (digital) community archives and to inspire new ones that are informed by digital preservation practice and methods. The programme of events will include practical sessions, as well as talks and papers which consider the experience of community archives and the challenges of digital preservation that they face. It will also initiate a conversation with digital art practice, exploring innovative approaches to the presentation of content from community digital archives to better engage new and existing audiences.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Jenna C. Ashton, Digital Women’s Archive North
  • Alison Bancroft, Feminist Archives South
  • Dr. Tohper Campbell, rukus! Archive
  • Orla Egan, Cork LGBT Archives
  • Dr Ben Jackson, University of Sussex
  • Jan Pimblett, City of London
  • Lisa Redlinkski, Radical Brighton
  • Nathan Richards, University of Sussex
  • David Sheppeard, Queer in Brighton
  • D-M Withers, University of Sussex
  • Paul Wheatley, Digital Preservation Coalition
  • Lesley Wood, Queer in Brighton

More to be announced.

This workshop is open to volunteers who work in community archives, practitioners, researchers, activists, archivists, artists and anyone interested in community archives and digital preservation. The event is free, but registration is essential as places are limited. Lunch will be provided.

There are a number of small travel bursaries (£100 each) available for PhD students, early career scholars and members of community-led archives. These are sponsored by the British Academy, if you are interested please send an email to briefly explaining the relevance of your work to this event by 6th June 2018.

The event runs over 2 days, 20th June (9.30 – 5pm) 21st June (9.30 – 4pm).

The Sussex Humanities Lab is located in the Silverstone Building at the University of Sussex: for a guide to accessibility see: