SAADA and the Community-Based Archives Model: What Is a Community-Based Archives Anyway? | South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) | The Information Professional |

By Michelle Caswell


"[...] SAADA as part of a growing movement of independent grassroots efforts emerging from within communities to collect, preserve, and make accessible records documenting their own histories outside of mainstream archival institutions. These community-based archives serve as an alternative venue for communities to make collective decisions about what is of enduring value to them, to shape collective memory of their own pasts, and to control the means through which stories about their past are constructed.

Power is central to this conversation. As U.K. archival scholars Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, and Elizabeth Shepard note, independent grassroots archival efforts first sprung up in response to the political and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Flinn, Stevens, and Shepard provide a broad working definition of community archives as "collections of material gathered primarily by members of a given community and over whose use community members exercise some level of control (Flinn, Stevens & Shepard 73)."