UMass Boston launches online roadmap for planning participatory archiving events

The Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce the availability of RoPA, the Roadmap for Participatory Archiving, at ropa.umb.edu. Supported in part by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), RoPA is an online resource designed to guide libraries and cultural organizations through the process of collaborating with community members to plan engaging and inclusive participatory archiving events and to create digital collections. 

RoPA homepage screen shot

Screenshot of the newly-launched RoPA website

RoPA is a response to an increasing interest in public digitization events, which are part of the emerging phenomenon of participatory archiving. At these events—commonly called “scanning days” or “digitization days”—individuals connected with a theme, topic, event, or community come together to share personal and family photographs and stories, which are copied and added to a digital collection. More and more, librarians and museum curators recognize the potential for these types of projects to break down hierarchies and enrich local, regional, and national histories. By playing an active role in selecting and describing what should be preserved in an archival collection, community members can transform our collective understanding of the past. Through participatory archiving, these groups come together to build a more inclusive archival record.

“We created RoPA to answer calls from colleagues around the country for guidance on how to undertake participatory archiving projects in their own communities,” explains Carolyn Goldstein, the coordinator of the Healey Library’s Mass. Memories Road Show program. The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program pioneered by UMass Boston that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. For this program, archivists and public historians in the Healey Library at UMass Boston work in partnership with local planning teams and volunteers to organize free public events where individuals bring photographs to be copied and included in a digital archive. Since its launch in 2004, the Mass. Memories Road Show has digitized more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the Commonwealth, creating an educational resource of primary sources for future generations. “RoPA is an opportunity to enhance the impact of our Massachusetts-based program,” adds Goldstein.

The development of RoPA was led by IMLS grant Co-Principal Investigators Goldstein and Andrew Elder, together with Sarah Collins, who served as Project Manager. They worked closely with a Core Team of leaders in the participatory archiving field to inform development and best practices on all aspects of the resource. RoPA’s Core Team included: Kathy Bolduc Amoroso, Maine Historical Society; Anne Karle-Zenith, Metropolitan New York Library Council; Yesenia Lopez, Newark Public Library; Veronica Martzahl, formerly of Massachusetts Archives and now La Mesa History Center; Danny Pucci, Boston Public Library; Joanne Riley, Interim Dean of University Libraries at UMass Boston; and Michele A. L. Villagran, San Jose State University

“I was thrilled when I was asked to work on the RoPA project team with several professionals from libraries and cultural institutions across the country. The collaboration and the sharing of ideas and knowledge helped strengthen the final project deliverable which will be an excellent guide for institutions and organizations as they collect and document personal and local stories and histories for future generations to enjoy or use for research,” notes Kathy Amoroso of the Maine Historical Society.

RoPA is aimed at libraries and cultural organizations of all kinds and sizes, offering a series of modules covering the important aspects of planning a participatory archiving event, including community partnerships and outreach, event logistics, metadata and archival description, and the preservation of digital materials. 

“To understand clearly what our colleagues throughout the country needed to know, our first step was to conduct a nationwide survey to capture the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of libraries and other cultural organizations,” Project Manager Sarah Collins explains. Libraries, cultural heritage organizations, and government agencies from more than thirty states responded to the UMass Boston survey.

“The survey results revealed that different users had different needs for an online resource of this type,” said Collins. Therefore, the team designed RoPA to be an accessible and adaptable resource that would guide both specialized professionals and novice volunteers through all of the steps of the participatory archiving process. While some users might already have experience with certain aspects of the work, they might need help with other dimensions. RoPA is organized by module to allow users to find the guidance they need and connect it to their own expertise and experience.

“We hope that RoPA will strengthen collaborations between libraries and their communities, and enable them to together build unique archival collections that document historically marginalized perspectives,” said Andrew Elder, Interim University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections. “Ultimately, we anticipate that RoPA will help connect people around the country who are doing this important participatory archiving work so they can learn from and support each other.”

For questions and more information, email ropa@umb.edu

RoPA logo in orange, blue, and greenIMLS logo

University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives and Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show images and stories available for research

Authors: Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager and Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

My three at the Cranberry Festival

My three at the Cranberry Festival, 2015. ‘My kids love this event. We went for several years. I love this photo because it is just so quintessential Southeastern Massachusetts. Pictured, from left to right: Zachary Burrey, Olivia Burrey, and Eliza Burrey. Location: A.D. Makepeace Company.’ Contributor: Julie Burrey.

 

Hosted by the Plymouth Public Library on Saturday, November 9, 2019, the event was coordinated by the library in cooperation with the Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Plymouth County Commissioners. Additional partners included the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Town of Plymouth Archivist, Destination Plymouth, Plymouth 400, and Plymouth Access TV. More than two dozen local volunteers—many from Plymouth 400—joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome over 100 adults and children with connections to the coastal town located south of Boston.

 

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard, early 1940s. ‘Verna May Harding was born in 1905 on the Herring Pond Tribal Reservation lands in what is now called Bournedale and Cedarville in Plymouth. She lived there her entire life of 89 years. Along with her sister Phyllis and other female Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribal cousins, she was one of the first women to even work at the Quincy shipyard, right alongside the men. This is her Quincy shipyard photograph. Pictured: Verna May Harding.’ Contributor: Melissa Ferretti.

 

Contributors shared photographs and stories from the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the original inhabitants of modern-day Plymouth, as well as from families descended from colonial settlers who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  A number of community members contributed photographs and stories chronicling their immigrant heritage, including accounts of personal and family connections to Italy, Russia, and the Azores among other countries. Many of these materials provide evidence of religious and cultural organizations established by these cultural groups in Plymouth beginning in the late 19th century.

Columbus Day 1934

Columbus Day parade, 1934. ‘During the depths of the Great Depression the community tried to present events which would help morale and keep up spirits. This parade, as far as I know, was the only time it was organized for this holiday. Much of the planning and execution were undertaken under the auspices of the Italian social clubs which were based in North Plymouth. The picture shows the submission from the appropriately-named Cristoforo Colombo Club.’ Contributor: Enzo Monti.

 

Several contributors shared memories of their experiences at work in Plymouth and the surrounding area. They submitted photographs and stories of themselves and their ancestors on the job on farms, in family businesses such as butcher shops and restaurants, in libraries and historical societies and even in the local Quincy shipyard.

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth. ‘They are my grandfather and grandmother Santos. They are from the island of San Miguel in the Azores. Manuel was a butcher, farmer, and mailman. He had a butcher shop in Plymouth with his cousin Red Wing. They made Portuguese sausages—linguica, chorizo, blood sausage, and head cheese. My grandmother’s father was chief of police on the island. Pictured, from left to right: my grandmother Mary Santos and my grandfather Manuel Santos.’ Contributor: Dennis Soares.

 

To document connections to the public memory of the arrival of Pilgrims from England in 1620, many contributors brought photographs of visits to landmarks such as Plymouth Rock or attendance at commemorative events such as the arrival of the Mayflower II in 1957 and the annual Pilgrim Progress reenactment. Still other participants recounted participation in the town’s emergence as a famous tourist attraction in the late 20th century including interpreting and learning about 17th-century life at the Plimoth Plantation museum (now Plimoth Patuxet) and planning the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim landing.

The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957

‘The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957. After weeks of training, my father along with friends and six of his family members rowed out to meet the Mayflower II when she sailed from Plymouth, England and arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Benjamin Brewster, Lothrop Withington, Jr., Paul Withington, William Stearns, Jr., United States Vice President Richard Nixon, George Davis, Russell Fry, Jr., Russell Coffin, Robert Briggs, and Spencer Brewster.’ Contributor: Russell Fry.

 

Colonial camp at Harlow House

‘Colonial camp at Harlow House, 1990s. I’ve been a history nerd since the beginning. While other kids dreamed about space camp, I was thrilled to attend “Colonial Camp.” I churned butter, learned how to work a loom, and made my own tussie mussie. Plymouth is a wonderful place for a history-lover to grow up!’ Contributor: Sarah (Mathews) Collins.

 

Event participants also shared memories of enjoying the natural environment in Plymouth and the surrounding area with family and friends, contributing photographs and stories of such favorite local places as beaches, parks, and cranberry bogs. Still other individuals aimed to remember their families and communities with images of weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings and trips, school activities, local organizations, and everyday life in the town.

Backyard chicken coop

Backyard chicken coop, 2009. ‘An experiment one summer—we helped a neighbor raise the little peeps to become hearty. Pictured, from left to right: my children Anna Bishop, Madeleine Bishop, and Charles Bishop. Location: Ellisville.’ Contributor: Maria Bishop.

Browse the Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

 

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Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show materials available online now

Author: Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

Halloween at Fotomat, 1970. ‘In college, I worked at Fotomat, a drive-through film developing store. In this picture, Connie who worked in the morning is dressed as Minnie Mouse and I am a pirate for Halloween. Pictured: Connie Tucker and Paula Jones.’ Contributor: Paula Jones.

 

Hosted by the Brockton Public Library on Saturday, May 18, 2019, the event was organized by the library in partnership with the Brockton Historical Society, the Brockton Area Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Haitian American Citizens Aid, and the Brockton City Council. More than two dozen local volunteers joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome nearly 100 adults and children with connections to the large city located south of Boston.

Participants shared memories of important personal and family moments, including experiences immigrating to Brockton from places all over the world such as Haiti, Cape Verde, and Greece. The stories that they shared were full of love, loss, success, and hardship.

High school days, 1980. ‘My Brockton High School graduation photo from 1980. “Mo” was easier to pronounce than Moises. I emigrated from Cape Verde and had to assimilate into a massive high school. My first challenge was to learn English. It was a scary time for immigrants as there were not many services to help with blending into American culture. I didn’t even know what a prom was. 1200 students graduated in my class that year. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school. Pictured: Moises Rodrigues.’

 

Many individuals contributed stories about participation in activities at local schools such as Brockton High School, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, and Massasoit Community College. They shared senior and graduation photos, team photos, biographies, and images of technical projects.

Flute section of Brockton High marching band

Flute section of Brockton High marching band, 2018. Contributor: Francesca DiMare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several contributors brought in images of the city’s civic, fraternal, and community organizations such as the local lodge for the Order of the Sons of Italy, the Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association, the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association, and the Brockton Public Library.

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street, 1920. ‘The Brockton Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA) nurses are being transported by sleds to make their visits. Photo taken in front of the family home of our State Senator Thomas Kennedy.’ Contributor: Margaret Mane.

 

Additional photographs and stories document the deep involvement that many Brockton residents have in their religious communities. Some of the many houses of worship that were documented during the event include the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the Messiah Baptist Church, Our Lady of Ostrobrama, St. Theresa’s Maranite Catholic Church, and Central United Methodist Church.


Construction of the new sanctuary of Messiah Baptist, 1984. ‘Messiah is building a new church that will be connected to the old church that was built in 1897. Pictured: Reverend Michael Walker and Paulette Walker. Location: Downtown.’ Contributor: Miles Jackson.

 

Browse the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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News from the Mass. Memories Road Show: Updates for 2020

Mass. Memories Road Show film stripAlong with so many other public history and cultural programs, the Mass. Memories Road Show was forced to pivot away from live events in response to the COVID-19 crisis this spring. Still, the team at UMass Boston has been hard at work behind the scenes to make collections available and to emerge with a stronger program as soon as we can get back on the road again.

Here are a few updates about our program and activities:

Photograph of videographer at Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show

Photograph of videographer and contributor at Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show

Collection update

Videos from the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show and Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now. The images and stories are in production and contributors will be notified when they are available, likely sometime this summer.

Call for Research Participants

University of North Texas student, Ana Roeschley, is conducting a dissertation study on participatory archive projects like the Mass. Memories Road Show. Her research is on the impact of projects like the Mass. Memories Road Show on individuals and communities that participate in these projects. She is recruiting past participants of the Road Show who are over the age of 18 to be interviewed about their experiences with the Road Show. Interviews will be conducted virtually via the Zoom platform and participants will receive a Starbucks or Dunkin’ gift card. Download a flyer.

For more information and to participate, contact Ana Roeschley by emailing ana.roeschley@unt.edu or calling 512-809-3662.

Events update

The Mass. Memories Road Show events in Bellingham and Malden have been postponed indefinitely, and will be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so, most likely sometime in 2021.

Although we can’t know when we will be able to resume public gatherings, the Mass. Memories Road Show continues to welcome applications on a rolling basis for 2021 and beyond. Interested communities can apply here.

Institute of Museum and Library Services grant update

With support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Mass. Memories Road Show team is developing a “roadmap” to guide libraries of all kinds and sizes through the process of organizing similar “participatory archiving” events and building digital collections on their own. We completed a survey of needs among libraries and cultural organizations throughout the United States, and plan to launch a test version of the roadmap later in 2020. Designed to be an interactive reference, the roadmap will lead users through a series of modules covering the important aspects of planning a participatory archiving event, including community outreach, metadata and archival description, and the preservation of digital materials.

Interested in learning more? Email sarah.collins@umb.edu.

New Mass. Memories Road Show website

Last fall, we launched a new website for the Mass. Memories Road Show program, which includes a video about the program. Visit the new website here, which features a variety of resources for local planning teams including volunteer training materials about each of the Road Show “stations” as well as sample publicity flyers and press releases.

Questions? Please contact Carolyn.Goldstein@umb.edu and visit blogs.umb.edu/archives for further updates.

Browse the Mass. Memories Road Show collection here.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 10,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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National Participatory Archiving Survey Results Available Now!

Map of United States showing which states responded to the surveyDuring summer 2019, University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted a survey about participatory archiving, or the process of collecting and preserving materials in partnership with community members. The results of the survey will inform the development of an online resource to guide libraries of all kinds and sizes through the process of hosting a participatory archiving event. The project is inspired by UASC’s Mass. Memories Road Show program and made possible by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

The survey results capture the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of libraries and other cultural organizations already doing participatory archiving events and those that are exploring the idea of hosting an event. UASC collected survey responses from 208 respondents representing 33 states and the District of Columbia: 123 libraries (public, private, university, and K-12), 46 cultural heritage organizations, and 25 government agencies, as well as other institutions. 

The survey reveals a great deal of interest in participatory archiving across the country. 

Approximately one half of the libraries surveyed already hosted a participatory archiving event. Ninety-five percent of these libraries found success in building community, engaging participants, and building collections through these types of events. To share materials gathered, libraries provided in-archive use to the public, posted them to their own digital repositories and social media, and/or shared them through a consortium website or state/regional repository. The survey revealed that many libraries are still learning how to preserve the digital assets they collect at participatory archiving events. 

A slight majority (55%) of libraries surveyed have not hosted or taken part in a participatory archiving event. More than half of these libraries rated their interest in holding such an event as very high. Most of these libraries cited community engagement and collections activities (building, diversifying, filling gaps) among their primary goals. To effectively host an event, these libraries reported the need for personnel (staff or volunteers), time, and guidance on various aspects of the participatory archiving process. 

UASC looks forward to addressing these needs and other gaps uncovered in the survey. In addition, UASC will seek feedback from survey participants on the online resource when it is launched later this year.  

The report analysis covers a range of topics including community outreach, digital aggregator repositories, and preservation practices from the perspectives of libraries. Responses from other types of cultural organizations are contained within the dataset that can be found in the appendix.

If you have questions about the survey or the IMLS-funded project, please email library.archives@umb.edu.

Click here to read the full report and to access the data set.

Click here to learn more about the grant-funded project.

About the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston

UMass Boston logoThe Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston plays a leading role in the dynamic culture of teaching and learning at Boston’s only public research university, while also supporting the campus’ commitment to urban and community engagement. University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Healey Library collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service. UASC is committed to working with, promoting, and assisting community archives in the Greater Boston area and beyond through facilitating cross-organization collaboration and access to informational, educational, and practical resources relevant to archival procedures and best practices. Check in with Healey Library’s news and collections through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Logo for the Institute of Museum and Library ServicesThe Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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