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​Pennsylvania State Archives Community History Dialog

What is a Community?

A social community (in this context) is a group of people who share a common characteristic, attitude, interest, or goal and consider themselves to be a community. Your community can be connected by ethnic or cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation or gender identity, religious beliefs, or any other connection. A community can be represented by a formal organization, or a community’s members can be more loosely connected.  No matter what, preserving your community’s history is important.

What is a Community History Dialog?

The purpose of this Community History Dialog (CHD) is to bring together members of community organizations (or any interested person) to learn how to save the history of a community. If you’ve ever wondered “what things should my community save to show future generations what we did?” or “how do we take care of the old things we already have?” this dialog is for you. Preserving your history can seem like a challenge, but with the right tools and help you can do it!

Some speakers have shared their own experiences collecting and preserving their community’s history and some have given advice on how you may collect and keep your history. The discussions canl be helpful for communities that haven’t even thought about the past of their group,  are just starting to preserve their history, or  have collected a lot already but don’t know what to do next.

The goal of these discussions is not to collect and preserve your historical things in the State Archives, but to  empower your community to preserve its own history and tell your own stories in a way that works best for you. This could mean working with an archives or working on your own.

Community Archives Resources

Community Resources (General)

Social Media

Audiovisual Resources—film, video, or audio


The below websites are for specific groups but helpful to all communities:

Indigenous People

Student Activism

Black History

Japanese Americans

Past Dialogs

 Monday, September 14, 2020. 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m.
Organizing a Community to Preserve its History

How does a community begin preserving its history? Learn how the LGBT Center of Central PA History Project first organized, found volunteers, and collected stories and history from members of the LGBT community in Central Pennsylvania.

Barry Loveland, Chair, LGBT Center of Central PA History Project

Tuesday, September 15, 2020. 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m.
Capturing Black History through the Lens of Black Art

Using art as the power to interpret memories, when traditional photography does not exist for your community, and the story still needs to be told. 

Ophelia Chambliss, Artist, Commissioner, PA Historical & Museum Commission  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
What if your History is not Written? Collecting Oral Recollections and Histories

What if your community’s history isn’t written down? Learn how to capture the verbal memories of your community or family members and preserve them for future generations.

Pam Whitenack, Director Emerita, Hershey Community Archives

Thursday, September 17, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Preserving Stories Digitally  

Not all stories are saved on paper. Discover how the South Asian American Digital Archives (SAADA) evolved to give voice to its community through documenting, preserving, and sharing stories digitally.  

Samip Mallick, Executive Director, South Asian American Digital Archive

Friday, September 18, 2020. 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. 
Resources: Where to find Money and Assistance

There are many places that communities can go to find advice, funding, and partners to help preserve their history and memories. In this session we will discuss some of the resources available in Pennsylvania and where communities can go for more help.

Dana Payne, Director of Diverse Cultures and Heritage at the Pennsylvania Council  on the Arts
Dr. Jennifer Garcon, member of Archivists for Black Lives in Philadelphia
Laurie Zierer, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council
Josh Stahlman, Archivist, Pennsylvania State Archives; Historical & Archival Records Care Grants; Archives without Tears

For more information contact:
Cindy Bendroth
350 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090