Community archives aim to give visibility to the stories and histories of specific cultures and communities that are often underrepresented in national or regional archives. Sometimes, these communities have been historically marginalised, and this marginalisation continues to reflect as underrepresentation in traditional memory institutions. The time, effort, and skill that goes into creating community-based archives is often undertaken by individuals or groups working on a voluntary basis or with little funding.
As a publicly funded repository for Ireland’s social and cultural data, the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) believes it is important to make long-term preservation of digital materials open to a wide range of organisations, including those operating on a non-funded, voluntary basis. We value the publication of a diversity of datasets and collections and are committed to supporting community-based archival initiatives through sharing our digital preservation skills and profession-based knowledge. We therefore offer some free memberships, and all the related benefits, as part of our DRI Community Archive Scheme. Information on the DRI Community Archive Scheme application process will be announced when the 2021 call opens.
DRI Community Archive Scheme Winner 2019
Cork LGBT Archive
Image: Cork LGBT Archive logo
Cork LGBT Archive was the inaugural winner of the DRI Community Archive Scheme Award. The Cork LGBT Archive aims to preserve and share information in relation to the rich history of Cork's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities. The collection has been preserved for long-term access in the Repository here: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.2j635q62d
DRI Community Archive Scheme Winner 2020
Image: Photograph of the exterior of Lissywollen Accommodation Centre, Athlone, taken in 2013
The 2020 winner was Asylum Archive. This collection includes almost 6,000 photographs, academic essays, audio interviews, and publications that document life under Direct Provision, collected by artist, activist, and scholar Vukašin Nedeljković, a former resident of a Direct Provision Centre.
Cork Community Media Hub (formerly Frameworks Media and Archive Centre)
Cork Community Media Hub was also recognised in the Community Archive Scheme 2020. Cork Community Media Hub is a social enterprise in Cork City that provides services for the community in film-making, media production, and training.
DRI Community Archive Scheme Winners 2021
Three community-based archive initiatives were chosen as the winners of the 2021 DRI Community Archive Scheme: The Elephant Collective, Dublin Ghost Signs, and Dublin-based Community Films by Joe Lee. The decision to award three 2021 DRI Community Archive Scheme recipients was in recognition of the exceptional standard of the winning applications and the significance of the collection material, which promises to enrich the digital cultural memory of Ireland. The decision was also informed by DRI’s commitment to playing our part during the COVID-19 crisis by offering extra preservation support for at-risk collections during this challenging time.
The Elephant Collective
Image: Knitted quilt from The Elephant Collective Campaign launch, 2015
The Elephant Collective is a voluntary group of birth activists, educators, student midwives, and artists that worked with the parliamentarian Clare Daly MEP (then TD) from 2014 to 2019 to secure new legislation that would make inquests into all maternal deaths in Ireland both automatic and mandatory. In 2019, they succeeded in ensuring that the Coroners (Amendment) Act 2019 passed into legislation. The collection is a testament to the hard work of the campaigners and will be a rich resource for researchers, both nationally and internationally, who wish to learn more about the example set by Ireland as the first country in Europe to have passed specific legislation about maternal death inquests.
Dublin Ghosts Signs
Image: Faded ghost sign on Camden Street, Emma Clarke, Dublin Ghost Signs
Ghost signs are the old and typically hand-painted signs of advertisements and businesses that have closed their doors for the final time. In Dublin, these signs are everywhere – on walls, above buildings, and on tiled mosaic doorsteps. Dublin Ghost Signs is an online collection of Dublin’s old and fading signs which have stood the test of time. The collection will be a significant resource for history and sociology researchers and for anybody interested in visual collections which illustrate the changing landscape of a city.
Dublin-based Community Films by Joe Lee
Image: Joe Lee (third right, front row) with a group from St Michael’s Estate Family Resource Centre at the Irish Museum of Modern Art 2001
Joe Lee is an independent film and video maker. Since the early 2000s, Joe has been making a series of community-based films set in Dublin neighbourhoods that present a unique insight into the recent social history of the city from the 1980s onwards. These projects include: Dreams in the Dark (2002), Dark Room (2002), Inside Out Outside In Stories from O’Devaney Gardens (2007), Bananas On The Breadboard (2010), CityWide (2011), The Area (2012), Fortune Wheel (2015) and Barracks Square Estate (2017). The eight community-based films in Joe’s collection offer an important social and cultural history of Dublin and are especially relevant in terms of providing a record of oral histories of working-class Dublin communities.