Community Day Recap

Project director Mariam Williams (front, center) facilitates discussion with participants at Free Library of Philadelphia’s Community Day, 16 Feb 2019.

Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance participated in Community Day at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The event began with the talk/exhibit tour “Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward in a Changing City” given by by Kalela Williams, Director of Neighborhood Library Enrichment for the Free Library of Philadelphia. The talk was presented in conjunction with the exhibit “At These Crossroads: The Legacies of Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois,” which Williams co-curated.  In her talk, Williams discussed significant people and places in the Seventh Ward, and DuBois’s study of the Ward in The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899. Williams also talked about some of the primary sources she consulted while working on the exhibit, including diaries of an African-American woman in Philadelphia during the Civil War (held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania), and several African-American girls’ friendship albums (held at the Library Company of Philadelphia).

Following the talk, 20 people participated in a listening session over pizza and snacks. Discussion centered on how people were thinking about preserving their own and their families histories, and how materials end up in archives. The audience raised important questions about how you can know whether something you have is of interest to an institution (either in general, or what the right institution to contact might be), whether the fact that so much is digital makes it easier or harder to preserve and share materials, and how to decide whether or not to save something when you are cleaning the attic or tidying up. Participants also were interested in what archival institutions exist in Philadelphia and expressed surprise that PACSCL has 40 member institutions.