Archivist in a Backpack

filled backpack kits on a tableThe project is one element of a three-year, $877,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Through the grant, SHC archivists promote community-driven archiving. By partnering with individuals and communities, the SHC aims to support grassroots efforts to record and preserve local history. The archivists provide training, technical know-how and, now, supplies and equipment that will make the job easier.

The bags and backpacks contain items to assist a community-based historian conduct and record oral history interviews and begin assembling photographs, letters, documents and meaningful artifacts.

The team will continue to refine the program as they go along. In the second and third year of the project, they will assess the work done to date and create new kits based on user feedback. They will also share their experience with additional community partners and with the archival profession.

Press release: Libraries Launch “Archivist in a Backpack”
Additional photos


Making a Starter Kit

a backpack with archiving supplies laid out next to it.

This spreadsheet includes links to all of the items we purchased, as well as suggestions for the number of certain items to include per kit (for example, three No. 2 pencils from a bulk order of thirty).

We did not include pricing in this inventory, as cost can vary dramatically based on if you have a supplier discount or are buying items in bulk. However, each of our kits came out to around $175.


Archivist supplies next to a wheeled suitcase.
Download the kit: Spreadsheet | PDF

While the assembled kits are only given to our community partners, the educational resources we develop (like these!) are intended to be accessible, adaptable, and freely available for anyone to use.


Using the Kits

These guides provide training and information on using the kit for SHC Community Partners.


Feedback Form

CDA Backpack Feedback Form