Herrada – Question 4
4What is the relationship between social protest and social-protest archiving?
Curator of the Joseph A. Labadie Collection, Special Collections – University of Michigan
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Some would say that there is no relationship, that there are those who make revolution and those who document the revolution. Others might say that the documentation doesn’t matter, that social-protest material was relevant in the moment it was created or used for its intended purpose, but that any efforts to preserve it are wasted. On the other hand, there are many social-justice activists with archivist sensibilities who collect and preserve the evidence of their activities, who appreciate and recognize the historic value of them, and who believe the artifact will continue to have use through the future, for those who wish to remember the past and learn from it. Even the existence of the tangible artifact, for those who see it (and not just a digital version of it) and even touch it, to realize that it has passed through many hands from its creation to its dissemination is itself a teachable moment. I have seen firsthand the excited and wondrous reactions of students exposed to these primary sources. In addition, these artifacts and documents help to prove the existence of past struggles for justice and can provide inspiration and courage for future ones.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Ironically, I was not one of those who collected and saved the documentation of my activism. I moved around a lot, and in the interest of freedom and mobility, I didn’t retain much from my past. That’s in part why I am so grateful to those who did. Those are the people who have or might come forward to present their treasures to me, or perhaps their children or their grandchildren will. Because they have taken the time to preserve these artifacts, the very least I can do is to treat everything with the care it deserves and do everything in my power to provide access.