In what already seems like a long time ago, Rachel, Sasha and I traveled to Indianapolis at the beginning of April to attend the 2013 Midwest Archives Conference. I had written a proposal way back in the fall hoping to present at the conference on the topic of documenting community tragedies and events as they happen. With some helpful guidance from Rachel, I was able to connect with two other individuals who are working on similar projects to us.
The panel session was titled, “As It Happens: Documenting Community Tragedies and Transformations.” The other presenters in the group were Cindy Ditzler from Northern Illinois University and Joel Thoreson from the ELCA Archives. Cindy is also working with the Omeka platform, creating a digital archive to document the 2008 school shooting at NIU. Her presentation was very moving and we hope to continue collaborating in the future. Joel presented on an interactive storytelling booth he set up at the Churchwide Assembly in 2009 and 2011 that generated a fair amount of controversial material around the topic of gay clergy in the church and gay marriage in the church. We focused the presentation on the delicate nature of working with donors when documenting events that generate lots of sensitive material and how we as professionals can work through those delicacies and challenges to create a meaningful project to share with the larger community.
We received a lot of positive feedback from conference attendees and it was a great opportunity to spread the work of the project with others in the archives field.
I will be on maternity leave for June and July, back in August. In the meantime, we have applied for two grants to continue funding the project for another 18-24 month cycle and will wait to hear about those proposals this summer.