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ASU relaunches blog to spark dialogue about underrepresented communities

The Community-Driven Archives Blog, which is run by the ASU Library, brings awareness to Arizona's minority populations' histories

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"The archival process involves finding and scanning historical documents and making them available to the public." Illustration published on Tuesday. Nov. 26, 2019.

The ASU Library is working to archive the histories of underrepresented communities in Arizona, and now people can view the archival process on the relaunched Community-Driven Archives Blog. 

The ASU Library relaunched the blog on Nov. 13, and the blog works to bring awareness to the history of underrepresented groups through digital archives.

The archival process involves finding and scanning historical documents and making them available to the public. The blog encourages the community to get involved with the archival process. 

READ MORE: ASU helps 10,000+ archives of LGBT+ history go digital

The project titled "Engaging, Educating, and Empowering: Developing Community-Driven Archival Collections," was established in September 2017, and was developed after a $450,000 grant. The three-year grant was given by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

But, shortly after the blog was launched, it shuttered, according to the post announcing its return. 

The ASU Library is continuing to digitize other archival collections, such as the Chicano / a Research Collection and Greater Arizona Collection, and the progress can be tracked on the blog.  

The project sheds light on the histories and legacies of the marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+, Asian and Latinx communities. The project connects ASU with community organizations such as Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Phoenix Pride and Chicanos Por La Causa

Jessica Salow, an archive specialist at ASU Library, is running the relaunched blog. She said she wants to provide knowledge to historically underrepresented communities in Arizona. 

She is reintroducing the blog through five foundational posts discussing the project, the team, the grant, the work and why it is important.

"Being a person of color knowing that there isn't a group representation of people like me, it really makes me mad," Salow said. "I am on a personal mission to correct this."

According to Arizona Archives Matrix, Latinx, African Americans, Asian Americans and the LGBTQ+ community make up over 42% of Arizona's population, but they are only represented in 0-2% of known archival collections.

“We want to be as open and as inclusive as we can," Salow said. "I thought that this would be a good learning tool and to be able to get the skills necessary to just have a blog going."

Salow's team works with other community organizations to host events to allow individuals to become aware of the history of underrepresented groups here in Arizona. 

Heather Boardwell, a senior studying non-profit leadership and management and current intern with the project, said her main role focuses on the Bj Bud Memorial Archives, which is a collection of archives from the LGBTQ+ community in Arizona.

Boardwell said she wants to help people see the history within the LGBTQ+ community.

“If I am looking at a periodical that covers my community, I need to see myself in there," Boardwell said. "This hopefully will start to make that happen more often."

Kate Saunders, a graduate student worker for the project studying justice studies, said her main area of focus in the project is on Chicano / a Research Collection and outreach for the events. 

“What this project offers people ... is evidence of the powerful stories and lived experiences of communities of color and queer folks," Saunders said.

History preserves familial traditions, and Saunders said she believes that it is imperative for people to know and listen to those archives.

“Our history understands our present and builds toward a future that is better for our dignity and well-being and happiness and communities," Saunders said. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @AnushaNat1 on Twitter.

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Anusha NatarajanDiversity Officer

Anusha Natarajan is in her third year at ASU studying sociology, history, and political science. She previously served as a reporter for the community and culture desk for four semester and helps with Spanish translation and oversees diversity efforts in the newsroom. 

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