A Collection Created from Community, Crisis, and Trauma: Processing the "University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017"


The University of Virginia collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017 attempts to document the circumstances surrounding the events of August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the responses to those events from communities in and outside the city of Charlottesville. The events of August 11 and 12, and of the July 8 KKK Rally earlier that summer, and many of the responses to those events are defined by trauma, crisis, fear, and tragedy. Although the focus of the context is on the August 12 protest and counter-protest, the large majority of the materials, however, were created in the aftermath. The collection contents present evidence of experienced trauma, as well as reactions to that trauma, in the form of narratives, artifacts, and photo/video-documentation. They also reveal distinct communities (some unintended) based on several characteristics, such as first-hand experiences during the events, expressions of solidarity from afar with the victims, statements of support or disapproval from residents directed towards city leadership, and discriminatory sentiments against people of color. The University of Virginia Library arranged and supported a kind of mediated participatory archiving activity that allowed some represented communities, local residents and first-hand witnesses, to submit audio, video, photo, and text documentation, along with any descriptive metadata they wished to include to the University Library Special Collections via an online submission portal based on the OMEKA platform. The use of this archival technology, along with web archiving, and the use of Twitter API in this collection serves as a marked transformation in archival methodology at the University of Virginia, both in terms of appraisal and acquisition, and in terms of collection processing and access. These developments in archival practice provide ways for repositories to expand the breadth of collections in terms of content, and also in terms of representation.