The library’s new community archiving program to broaden the scope of the regional history project


The University Library has announced the creation of a new community archiving program that will build on the foundations of its decades-old Regional History Project (RHP).

With the retirement of longtime RHP Director Irene Reti, the library has now redesigned the project to broaden its reach and will soon launch a national search for a newly created position as Community Archivist.

The new Community Archivist will continue to promote oral history as a means of capturing the rich diversity of campus and region histories, with a particular emphasis on communicating with traditionally under-represented communities. They will partner with the campus and the community to develop and facilitate oral history projects, serving as a resource for those who wish to use the methodology in their own research or to document the history of their own communities.

The Community Archivist will also seek partnerships with organizations and community leaders to support the preservation of community history through other means, such as the creation of official archival collections and public history projects.

“I am very excited to be entering this position at the Library, which will result in increased diversity in our collections and deepen our engagement with the Santa Cruz Campus and County by providing tools and methodologies to collect stories and stories. of all members of the community, ”said University Librarian Elizabeth Cowell.

Teresa Mora, Head of Special Collections and Archives at UCSC, said she was excited to continue the library’s commitment to oral history in a way that will foster partnerships with the wider community and engage with students.

“I see this as an opportunity to build on the great work of the Regional History Project which has provided so many opportunities for student engagement over the years, seen more recently in the Oral History Project. led by students, The empty year, Mora said. “I look forward to supporting such important community collaborations as Watsonville is in the HEarth and further identify opportunities to support our faculty and students in similar research.

Mora added that community archiving is a relatively recent trend within the archival profession that focuses on collaborating with community partners with the goal of empowering community groups – often those who are traditionally under-represented in formal archives. – the agency to tell their own stories. Oral history is a powerful tool in many of these projects, as tangible artifacts may no longer exist.

“The community archivist reflects the university’s real commitment to raising and amplifying local voices,” said Steven McKay, associate professor of sociology at UCSC, principal investigator on the Watsonville project. “Our community partners are delighted to share their perspectives and experiences that have generally been overlooked or overlooked in local and Asian American history. We are also delighted to preserve and promote these important stories and bring our partners in contact with a professional archivist dedicated to the stories of the unheard of too often. “

UCSC Dean of Humanities Jasmine Alinder added, “As a public historian, I am particularly excited to be working with a new community archivist. This position and the Community Archives program will expand our potential for impact, with an emphasis on community scholarship and co-creation of knowledge. “

Founded in 1963, the Regional History Project has helped document the history of the campus and the community and has served as a training ground for students and faculty in the field of oral history. The projects included student-led oral histories documenting the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and the impact of Covid-19 on the UCSC community.

The program has actively engaged with the local community since its inception, posting oral histories on topics such as the history of agriculture on the central coast and working closely with other history groups. local to provide advice in developing their own oral history projects.

Under Reti’s direction, RHP has produced over 60 oral histories, documenting the history of the campus and Santa Cruz County. Reti has conducted oral histories with local and academic figures such as Sam Farr, Donna Haraway, and George Blumenthal. She also edited the oral history volumes of the compendium, Cultivating a Movement: An Oral History of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture on California’s Central Coast and Out in the Redwoods: Documenting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History at the University of California, Santa Cruz 1965-2003.

In 2020, Reti, along with co-authors Sarah Rabkin and Cameron Vanderscoff, released Seeds of Something Different: An Oral History of the University of California, Santa Cruz, the first full history of the UCSC.


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