Community-Centered Archives Partnerships

Our Principles

Current Projects and Initiatives

What We're Exploring

Forming a Partnership

Past Projects and Initiatives

Our Principles

Community-centered archives come into being through collaborative partnerships between mainstream archival institutions and communities that are underrepresented in the historical record. The goal is to empower communities in the process of telling and preserving their own histories. In a community-centered archive partnership, archival institutions like the UCI Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center are:

  • Collaborative through shared authority
    • In a community-centered approach, the institution focuses on shared authority, making decisions together and respecting the value, expertise, and perspective brought to the partnership by the community.
  • Attentive to inequities reflected in archives
    • An institution should seek to understand how communities have been misrepresented, absent, or maligned in historical documentation.
  • Responsive to the community’s needs
    • An institution must be flexible, adaptable, and take an iterative and ethical approach to responding to how community memory and evidence is preserved, described, and made accessible. This means being willing to bend and stretch how archival work is defined to reflect what matters to the community.
  • Engaged with the divergent priorities of communities
    • Community-institution partnerships must vary depending on the needs of each community, from the level of involvement by specific contributors to decisions about what archival material to collect.

We trust in a community’s expertise and lived experience as the impetus for building impactful community-centered archives.

Current Projects and Initiatives

Community-Centered Archives Practice: Transforming Education, Archives, and Community History (C-CAP TEACH)

Cultivating commitment among higher education institutions to community-centered archives approaches, solidifying the ability and responsibility of academic libraries to engage critically and contribute to social justice-focused scholarship, training, pedagogy, and partnerships in their communities. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 2022 to 2025.

RoRR OC: Records of Resistance and Resilience in Orange County

This project, funded by the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence, seeks to document extremism in Orange County from the vantage point of historically marginalized communities' resistance and resilience to historical erasure. Through the Resistance and Resilience Curatorial Scholars program in Spring 2022, UCI students will be trained in archival practice, preservation, and public history to enrich our understanding of the history of the region and counter disinformation that circulates in our communities. Scholars will engage with community-based organizations to better document social justice action in Orange County region through methods like archival preservation, oral history, digital humanities, literary or artistic works, as well as practices for dissemination and access to this history through the Libraries.

UCI PrisonPandemic

A partnership with the UCI School of Social Sciences and School of Social Ecology, including establishment of physical and digital redaction protocols, consulting on archival best practices for metadata, advising Graduate Student Researchers on student training and supervision, and preservation and access. We are pursuing grant funding to support this effort to bring greater transparency to the COVID-19 crisis in prisons.

Teaching for Justice: A Spotlight On Teaching Asian American Studies Across the Curriculum

After nearly a year of conversations between K-12 educators in Orange County, faculty and staff at UC Irvine, and education experts across California, we are formally coming together to organize a two-day conference in 2022 intended for K-12 educators and other teachers interested in integrating Asian American Studies into the curriculum. The first day will be virtual and open to all teachers across California with a focus on how to integrate Asian American Studies into the K-12 classroom. The second day will be in-person on the UC Irvine campus, highlighting local history and community stories, and intended for teachers in Orange County. This grant will further the mission of the Humanities Center to create new understandings and dialogues across different communities regarding the role of the humanities, especially regarding Asian American Studies and K-12 education. An important outcome of the conference will be supporting the dissemination of research and pedagogical resources currently being developed.

School of Social Ecology Pandemic Histories Archive

This initiative, documenting UCI student COVID-19 experiences, includes consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), and templates for consent/donor deeds. This collecting initiative is ongoing and is represented in the collection finding aid.

Cambodian American History Collaborative

Establishing a local network of community-based organizations, educators, archivists, librarians, and community leaders with a mutual interest in preserving and providing access to Cambodian archival materials and dissemination of Cambodian American and Khmer American history in California.

Oakland Community School / Black Panther Party Project

UCI Humanities Center and cross-community partnership, including consultation on oral history transcription and preservation documentation.

Documenting the Black Experience at UCI and in Orange County

A project aimed at documenting the lived experiences of UCI’s black students in an effort to record an under-documented aspect of UCI’s dynamic history. The project will include facilitating the collection of oral histories and documentation (including photographs, slides, video recordings, audio recordings, scrapbooks, organizational records, departmental records, publications, event literature such as posters, postcards, flyers, and handbills, and other ephemera) from UCI black alumni, faculty, and staff.

Forming a Partnership with the OC & SEAA Center

  • When we develop a partnership, we may work with you to create a Community Partner Agreement. Please contact us at to get started.
  • If you represent a community organization and are interested in becoming a new contributor to Calisphere and the Online Archive of California (OAC), you can fill out a Partner Registration Form.
  • We invite partners who want to publish their archives online to contribute to the Community Archives Digital Portal as a way to deposit your organization's digital materials to the California Digital Library.
  • We also have a very limited inventory of equipment that can be borrowed for short term projects. Please consult with us for more information.

Past Projects & Initiatives

Transforming Education Archives and Community History (TEACH) student fellows

Funded by the UCI Anteater Grant Initiative, Transforming Education Archives and Community History (TEACH) students participated in a dynamic training and educational experience while working with one of the following community-based organizations in Winter 2022: VietRISE; Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP); or the LGBTQ Center of Orange County. TEACH scholars assisted librarians in the Special Collections and Archives Department in creating, promoting, and/or processing community archives. They also received hands-on training and educational experience, conducted research, and participated in community engagement activities.

Sharing Comfort and Care: Intergenerational Story-Mapping in the Cambodian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities of Orange County

A California Humanities for All grant-funded project, partnership with the UCI Department of Asian American Studies, The Cambodian Family (TCF), and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) to train a cohort of 27 Southern California-based researchers to document the resiliency and foodways of Cambodian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Stories from the Sea

The Stories from the Sea project emerged from a collaboration between the UCI Humanities Center, Newport Beach Library Foundation, UCI Center for Storytelling, UCI Libraries, and UCI History Department. In 2020-2021, the UCI Humanities Center is exploring the theme of “Oceans.” They constitute 70% of the world’s surface and are home to 94% of all the species on earth. How might we comprehend the vastness of oceans? What do oceans tell us about our past, present and future? The Stories from the Sea initiative formed to train students to conduct interviews and preserve important memories of encounters with the sea.

Learning from our Asian American and Pacific Islander Leaders: toward a more inclusive history of Santa Ana

A partnership with the Department of Asian American Studies involving the training of a cohort of 25 students to document and preserve the histories of the AAPI community in Santa Ana through archival research, oral history, and story-mapping, and video. This project has received funding from the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence.

Through Our Eyes, Hear Our Stories: Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities in a Time of Pandemic

UCI Epidemiology and UCI Humanities grant partnership, including consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), templates for consent/donor deeds, and archival preservation.

Documenting CA Essential Workers' COVID-19 Stories of Adaptation and Resilience

UCI Community-based Research Initiative Newkirk Center for Science & Society partnership, including consultation on oral history/interview collection and community-centered archives approaches.

UCI School of Medicine LEAD-ABC Orange County African, Black, and Caribbean (OC ABC) video project

UCI School of Medicine partnership, including consultation and templates for consent/donor deeds. The finding aid is published in the Online Archive of California.

Documenting Southeast Asian experiences at UCI

UCI Southeast Asian Student Association partnership, including consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), and templates for consent/donor deeds.

Preserving Iyanna Blackburn's documentary, The 2%: Navigating UCI as a Black Student documentary

UCI Anteater TV and student partnership, including consultation and donor deed. The finding aid is published in the Online Archive of California.

Activist Studio West: A Digital Repository of Movement Material

UCI Humanities partnership for the UCI-HBCU (Black) Digital Humanities Pathways Program, including consultation and training.

Amplify Womxn of UCI: Hear Our Voices

UCI Academic and Professional Women partnership documenting experiences of women of color at UCI, including consultation, interview and consent templates, and archival preservation.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Research Project

From 2017-2020, the UCI Libraries was awarded a prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant in the community anchors category for “Transforming Knowledge/Transforming Libraries.” This three-year research project explored the outcomes of undergraduate students applying what they learned in ethnic studies combined with lived experience in contributing to community archives. The research team partnered with the UCI departments of Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies and African American Studies, as well as stakeholders representing organizations throughout Orange County, California. Additionally, this collaborative partnership worked to connect library and information studies practice with the ethnic studies curriculum and provide undergraduates with first-hand experience in building and providing access to the digital cultural heritage of under-represented communities.

Research on Beginnings of Activism for the Department of Asian American Studies (BADAAS) at UCI

In 2017, the UCI Libraries celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Southeast Asian Archive (SEAA) and joined the School of Humanities in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Department of Asian American Studies. Department Chair Dr. Judy Wu and SEAA Curator Dr. Thuy Vo Dang led a research internship for five students and one staff member/recent alum who worked collaboratively to research the history of Asian American Studies at UCI.  The research team began with archival research in Special Collections and then conducted oral histories with alumni.  They presented their research at the national American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conference and received funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to continue their research and development of a short documentary, exhibit, and website.

Dr. Ana Rosas' Class and Exhibit - “The Material of Memory: Revisiting Our Histories of Immigration”

This student curated exhibit, which was on display in the UCI Student Center Viewpoint Gallery in March-April 2017, featured personal mementos of student family immigration histories. The exhibit was curated under the faculty advisement of Dr. Ana Rosas, Associate Professor, Chicano/Latino Studies and History. The project was co-sponsored by the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies, Department of History, School of Social Sciences, UCI Special Collections and Archives, UCI Illuminations and UCI Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. UCI Special Collections and Archives will preserve material from the exhibit in the University Archives.


Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center

University of California, Irvine

Located in Lower Gateway Plaza Facing Aldrich Park

(949) 824-3819