Archivists struggle with finding ways to connect collections with communities. We want to get our materials in the hands of people – young and old, local and far away, ones with personal ties and newcomers looking for ties. We use blogs (like Around the D), create encyclopedias and online exhibits, and we take to Twitter – (@DavidsonArchive.)
The hashtag #DavidsonNCResources is borrowed from a new movement by historians and archivists and activists to share information and encourage thoughtful reflections on history related to current events. One of the first uses came from Georgetown College. #Fergusonsyllabus was created by Marcia Chatelain, an assistant professor in the Department of History, in the wake of events in Ferguson, Missouri as a way for educators to share ideas and ways to help students discuss historical and social contexts.
In recent days #Charlestonsyllabus is being used to develop an online bibliography of books, articles, and primary sources on the American South and South Carolina history in particular.
Over the last few weeks — without the tragedies of the Ferguson and Charleston events –but with a similar concern for getting useful history to a broader audience, the Davidson College Archives staff have been working on a digital map. It’s not finished yet – and will eventually move to a new digital address– but it’s close enough to share.
It’s a map of the town of Davidson with markers placed to link sites with historical documents. Click on the bubble over the Ada Jenkins Center and you’ll get a list of oral histories, research papers, and manuscript collections about the former school and current community center. For now, the list is online but the records are not – you still have to come in to the archives to use them.
Future plans are to make more of the records available online and to fill in more spaces on the map. There are many areas in Davidson that are underdocumented – businesses we know little about, neighborhoods with long histories, religious communities and civic organizations that have shaped the town — you get the idea. And if you have records or stories to share, let us know. Call or email or tweet – lets make community history a community project.