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Tartan Community Archive Initiative

Information on the University Archives' Tartan Community Archive Initiative

Tartan Community Archive Initiative (TCAI)

The Tartan Community Archive Initiative (TCAI) is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of underrepresented and marginalized groups at Carnegie Mellon University. The Initiative is part of the University Libraries’ ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. One of the first actions to come from these discussions was the University Archives' Fall 2020 exhibit What We Don’t Have: Confronting Absence of Diversity in the University Archives, which explored gaps in our collections and highlighted the behind-the-scenes work of archivists. Through this initiative, the University Archives strives to amplify the voices of those who have been historically underrepresented at CMU, while building a collection that is reflective of our diverse community. These communities include but are not limited to: BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, first-generation students, international students, and people with disabilities.

How to get involved

There are several ways you can work with the University Archives to ensure that your experiences and contributions to CMU are preserved for future Tartans. 

1. Donate your records (aka stuff) to the University Archives. We accept both digital and analog (paper) formats. When you donate your records, you will be asked to sign a donation form, we call it a "deed of gift". The deed of gift will transfer the ownership of your records to the University Archives. Before the records are made publicly available they will be organized, described and added to the TCAI collection. Not ready to part with your mementos? We'd be happy to take digital copies and can advise you on how to digitize your materials following archival best standards. 

2. Share your story. Have a story related to your experience at CMU? We'd love to add it to the TCAI. We will be hosting a story slam event in the Fall of 2022. In the meantime you can arrange to record your story with an Archivist, submit your own recording, or send us a written narrative. What types of stories are we looking for? Anything related to the CMU experience. Examples - First impressions of campus as a first-gen student; finding your community or sense of belonging; how membership in your student organization has impacted your CMU experience.

3. Let us archive your website and/or social media accounts. We can save archival copies of your website or social media content. This can be a one time thing, or periodic crawls. Since we would be capturing public content, we would only need your verbal/written consent and would not require a formal transfer of ownership.

4. Learn how to preserve and organize your own records. Learn the skills necessary to preserve your records on your own so that you can maintain your records in your community, or prepare for a future donation to an archive. We can share tips and give demos on paper or digital preservation. Even if you don't end up donating to the TCAI, you can ensure that your records will be usable for future community members.


Contact the Community Collection Processing Archivist at cjohnso2@cmu.edu to get involved.

What is a community Archive?

What do we mean by Community Archives?

Community Archives are collections of materials which document a group of people who share similar identities, culture, heritage, experiences, and common interests.  Not every community's story can be found in institutional archives. Documenting the history of marginalized and under-represented peoples has been historically overlooked by libraries, archives, and academic institutions. In order to ensure that their history will be passed down, community members often take on the responsibility of saving, organizing, and sharing materials that are important to them. You're likely already a contributor to an "archive" with out knowing it.

The TCAI is heavily influenced by the community archives movement. These are your collections and you hold the expert knowledge in your experience at CMU. We're here to provide support to ensure your history is documented for future generations regardless of whether choose to donate to the University Archives or keep them in your community.