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This digital exhibition was created by five students enrolled in "Documentary, Archives, and Activism" in Media and Communication at Muhlenberg College in Fall 2017. The seminar was taught by Lora Taub-Pervizpour (Media and Communication) and Jordan Noyes (Instructional Technologist), with the collaborative contributions of Susan Falciani (Special Collections and Archives Librarian) and Rachel Hamelers (Head of Public Outreach and Information Literacy Services, Science Librarian, and Reference Services Manager) of Trexler Library.

The students who contributed to the research, conducted oral histories, designed and built the digital exhibits are:

Zachary Cimring ‘20 (Media and Communication, Film Studies)
Lyn Huo ‘19 (Media and Communication, Computer Science)
Anthony Fillis ‘19 (Media and Communication, Film Studies)
Jessica Land ‘18 (Theatre, Studio Art, and Film Studies)
Rebecca MacKillop ‘18 (Media and Communication, English)

The course introduced students to key issues, considerations, and ethical tensions in creating documentary archives. Whose stories get told? Who gets to tell their stories? Whose stories become part of the “documentary record” and whose are silenced, erased, and excluded? These questions concern both documentarians and archivists, fields that are increasingly in conversation as the work of documenting and archiving converge at a moment when digital and social media are increasingly sites of activism and protest as well as tools for activists and protesters.

Throughout the semester, we looked closely at specific examples of documentary archives, including the Occupy Philadelphia Archive, A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, and Documenting Ferguson. We paid particular attention to several projects aiming to archive the Women's March on Washington in January 2017. Our purpose was to contribute to these efforts by immersing students in extensive hands-on experience in documenting and archiving stories from the Women’s March and sister marches around the world, as they were lived and recounted by students, alumni, staff and faculty at Muhlenberg College.

Course Activities

The idea for this course took shape as social media was inundated with images, stories, critiques, and scams surrounding the Women's March. Lora Taub-Pervizpour and  Jordan Noyes presented the idea at the Domains 2017 conference framing the project as a semster long course that would work to establish how the Muhlenberg community was interacting with global movements for social justice and cultural resistence. With feedback from the conference, we partnered with librarians Susan Falciani and Rachel Hamelers to create an open call for artifiacts (pictured below) that went out to the Muhlenberg community. The fliers were posted around campus and digital copies were posted on social media platforms in the final weeks of the Spring semester and once again over the summer. 

call for protest archive materials

Collaboratively, we built a digital archive of artifacts form the Women's March using  Shared Shelf Commons, which is hyperlinked in the navigation bar as Shared Shelf Archive. Collecting, critiquing, and building the archive was the foundation of the course "Documentary, Archives, and Activism." Students reflected on their work throughout the semester in a series of blog posts beginning with reflections on the objects in the archive and on their experiences conducting oral histories to contribute to the archive. They did, in a sense, archive their own learning experience in this course. They received their own web domain through the Domain of One's Own project and allowed their posts to be syndicated to the course website. 

Students in the seminar were introduced to methods of oral history interviewing and gathering. They then began collecting oral histories from community members that have become a part of the archive. Each student conducted multiple oral history interviews with students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Each student pursued their own archive-related documentary resarch during the seminar. Drawing on photographs, audio recordings, and video, each student authored a short piece focused on some theme or aspect of the emerging archive.  Their documentary projects can be viewed here in this digital exhibit on the Women's March at Muhlenberg.

Accessing Audio Files

The oral history files were uploaded as individual items in this collection. They can be accessed by selecting the item, scrolling to the bottom of the metadata, and selecting the (or one of the) “Other Media” hyperlinks.