For UNC Libraries’ Southern Historical Collection, an $877,000 grant will provide new opportunities for community engagement.
Recently endowed with the money by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Southern Historical Collection hopes to expand its current operations and continue its practice of community-driven archives.
“Traditionally, we get material from individual donors most often, sometimes organizations. The idea is you pick it up, you bring it in the building and it lives here forever," Director of Southern Historical Archives Bryan Giemza said.
"With this model, what we’re trying to do is change that dynamic a little bit. And so the simplest way I know to describe that is it’s inverting this triangle, you know traditionally scholars would say ‘Hey, I want to study this stuff,’ the archive takes it in, and you know, then maybe the community looks at it after the fact. But, under this model, we’re inverting it so the community says ‘This is what we think is important,’ and they partner with us in some fashion to help curate that history.”
The grant will allow the Collection to hire a community archivist and will open four other positions for three years on a community driven team. The Collection is currently working on community-driven programs across the South, with some of the larger projects taking place in Appalachia, San Antonio, Eastern Kentucky and in historical black settlements and towns across the region.