In June, The Audience Agency launched an open call for projects that bring communities and archives closer together using digital technology. The call attracted a huge amount of interest, with 76 applications received from across England. In partnership with The National Archives’ Digital Archive Learning Exchange network, an independent panel of culture and heritage professionals had the difficult task of selecting projects to take part in our new Digitally Democratising Archives project.

We are now delighted to announce the 10 selected projects who’ll be working with us for the duration of the project until March 2022:

‘LGBT+ Oral Histories Digital Archive’ by LGBT Foundation LTD, North West: Creating a digital, accessible archive of LGBT+ oral histories focused on community empowerment and queer activism in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Mapping Migration: Jewish Temporary Shelter Cards’ by The Jewish Museum, London: Utilising georeferencing technologies to present information and stories gathered from newly digitised Jewish Temporary Shelter (JTS) cards.

‘Places never seen: A youth led, digital exploration of the 1911 Festival of Empire’ by South London Gallery, London: Young people from diverse communities will examine an example of local colonial history and develop digital outputs through Wikimedia.

‘Podcast: Celebrating Bearwood Women’ by Bearwood Community Hub, West Midlands: Upskilling women from diverse backgrounds to build a contemporary archive in a local community hub.

‘Preserving Cramlington Camera Club's Digital Archive’ by Northumberland County Council, North East: Working with local youth groups to build contemporary collections of artefacts from Cramlington Camera Club in a former mining town.

‘Silwood Video Archive Project’ by Spectacle Media, London: Working with communities from the Silwood estate in a participatory editing process to draw out stories from archival films made in the local area.

‘Stories from a treasure’ by Qisetna, London: A podcast and translation service to build awareness and connections with Syrian communities living in the UK.

‘Tag L8’ by Cinema Nation CIC, North West: Creating an interactive online platform that will hold community archive material from intersectional underrepresented groups in the Liverpool L8 area.

‘The East Riding Blockdown: Contemporary Collecting in Minecraft’ by East Riding Archives, Yorkshire: Working with young people aged 11-16 to collect COVID-19 experiences via a reconstruction of the Treasure House in Minecraft to house a new online ‘Archiverse’.

‘Women in Lockdown’ by Sheffield Feminist Archive, Yorkshire: Building an open-access digital archive that documents women’s experiences of the pandemic.

Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives says:

“We’re delighted that Opening Archives is supporting such a wonderful and diverse range of projects across England. Over the last 18 months, we’ve witnessed the power of digital to connect, entertain and inspire people more than ever before and we can’t wait to see how these 10 grant recipients use these new possibilities to bring archives and communities closer together.”

We’d like to thank all those that took the time to apply, demonstrating the huge appetite for using digital technology to engage communities with archiving or archive collections. We’ll be sharing learning opportunities from the project over the next 6 months and if you’d like to find out more about Digitally Democratising Archives, you can sign up for our newsletter here:

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