“Why all the hoopla? Backpacks aren’t exactly cutting edge. I think it is the awe that digging into a family or community’s past almost always elicits. But there are other components to the backpacks…Social justice, commemoration, and community healing often feel like implicit threads of the conversations.” —Claire Du Laney, former Outreach Coordinator, Community Driven Archives Team, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill
The idea behind Archivist in a Backpack is simple: marginalized communities often need tools and resources to help them document their personal, family, local, and regional histories. Our team provides a starter kit along with hands-on support and training.
The signature program of our Community-Driven Archives project is Archivist in a Backpack. Our community partners across the South receive a backpack filled with tools that support their archival projects. Backpacks come in two types:
- A roller-bag suitcase filled with tools and equipment used in caring for and digitizing physical archival collections
- A regular backpack filled with tools and equipment used in caring for archival collections and collecting oral histories
Our backpacks have traveled the world: from a First Nation in Canada to Germany to Mexico, as well as across the U.S.
We have led archival scanning and oral history workshops based on the tools in our backpacks with our project partners in:
- Eastern Tennessee
- Eatonville, FL
- Grambling, LA
- Hobson City, AL
- Lynch, KY
- Mound Bayou, MS
- Princeville, NC
- San Antonio, TX
- Shaw, MS
Our central goal is to develop our partners’ capacity to lead these workshops themselves. We aim to support new generations of community researchers and archivists in documenting and sharing underrepresented histories.
Making a Starter Kit
This PDF includes links to all of the items we purchased, as well as suggestions for the number of items to include per kit.
Cost can vary dramatically based on if you have a supplier discount or are buying items in bulk. Each of our kits came out to around $175.
Download the supply list and build your own!