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Digital Preservation of Reproductive Health Resources: Archiving the 8th

On 25th May 2018, Irish citizens voted to remove the controversial “8th Amendment” to the Irish Constitution, opening the way for the introduction of legislation governing the termination of pregnancy in the State.

The lead-up to the referendum included a number of campaigns from grassroots organisations and volunteers, and took place primarily over social media. In particular, a number of initiatives emerged whose aim was to tell stories of personal experiences of abortion. These initiatives collected and published stories from ordinary women, giving a voice to a previously silent group, and developing a public capacity to empathise with their experiences.

This project intends to provide long-term preservation and access to the many at-risk archives generated by grassroots women’s reproductive health movements during the campaign. There is no consensus on the best practice for archiving social media posts, hosted as they are on a variety of platforms each with their own rules about exporting and reposting content elsewhere. The rich record of how this referendum campaign unfolded, and of how volunteers and community groups contributed to the national conversation, is at real risk, therefore, of being lost to us forever as social media accounts close, platforms change or go out of business or we simply lose track of where the information exists.

This project aims to:

  • Ingest material from the six collaborating organisations for long term preservation in the DRI
  • Develop best practice for archiving social media
  • Create a registry of at-risk reproductive health archives and support further ingest to the DRI
  • Carry out social science research into best practice, ethics and legalities of archiving this material
  • Provide training and expertise to reproductive health archives in archival best practice
  • Collect and preserve additional material on the topic from the public

The project is funded by a grant of €383,481.00 from the Wellcome Trust and will run over 36 months from 1st June 2020. It is led by Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University and the Royal Irish Academy in collaboration with a number of additional content partners.

Project Partners and Organisational Data Sets

  • Irish Qualitative Data Archive (IQDA)
  • Together For Yes
  • The Abortion Rights Campaign
  • The Coalition To Repeal the Eighth Amendment
  • Terminations for Medical Reasons (TMFR)
  • InHerIrishShoes

Research Data Sets