About the Project

Chronicling Resistance is an archival and exhibitions project, fellowship program, and collaboration among the Fellows, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). Chronicling Resistance aims to do four things:

Increase public recognition and understanding of the history of marginalized groups and people in Philadelphia;

Deepen the relationship between traditional archives and activists who might use the information held there

Produce models for how public libraries can empower activists and traditionally marginalized communities in preserving their own history and partner in their social change work; and

Produce models for how public libraries can think more broadly about how they present archival materials.


Chronicling Resistance began at PACSCL in 2018 with two goals: 1) amplify stories of resistance in Philadelphia’s historic archival collections, and 2) preserve records of today’s acts of resistance. With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, it expanded in 2020 to an archives and exhibitions project that will take its participants and Philadelphia through the end of 2022.

Read more about the history of Chronicling Resistance here.

View the project’s Guiding Principles here.











The Chronicling Resistance Team

Mariam Williams, Project Director

Andrew Nurkin (Deputy Director, Division of Civic and Cultural Engagement at the Free Library of Philadelphia), Principal Investigator

Sarah Horowitz (Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts and Head of Quaker & Special Collections at Haverford College), Steering Committee Chair and PACSCL Board representative

Yolanda Wisher, Consulting Curator

Mustafa Ali-Smith, Project Assistant, Dec. 2020-present

Steering Committee

Representatives from PACSCL’s member institutions are undertaking this project alongside the project director and assistant. They bring decades of experience as librarians and archivists and are actively engaged in work that (re)considers archives and libraries as tools of resistance.

Steering Committee:

  • Sarah Horowitz, Steering Committee Chair, Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts and Head of Quaker & Special Collections at Haverford College
  • Lois Fischer Black, Curator of Special Collections, Lehigh University Linderman Library
  • Joshua K. Blay, Museum Registrar and Collections Manager, ‎City of Philadelphia City Archives
  • Caitlin Goodman, Curator, Rare Books Department, Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Curtis Small, Jr., Senior Assistant Librarian and Coordinator, Public Services, University of Delaware Libraries
  • Jasmine Smith, African American History Subject Specialist and Reference Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Diane Turner, PhD, Curator, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries.


Resistance and YOU

Resistance takes shape in many different ways—in large, small, and everyday acts, and through people whose names we know and some people whose names we don’t know. How do you see yourself in Philadelphia’s resistance history? Would you have fought back against colonization? Been a revolutionary? Preserved your ancestral culture and traditions? Fed and clothed children in your community? Held hands in public with a forbidden partner? Stood against ratifying the 13th, 14th, or 19th amendments?

We’re building a resistance collections website to highlight some of the ways people have shown resistance throughout Philadelphia’s history. We’d also love to know more about your resistance story and how libraries and archives could be a partner in it. Please fill out our contact form and send us a message.

PACSCL member organizations that want to add documents to our collections website should click here.