UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Historical Collection received an $877,000 grant last week to fund the expansion of its “community-driven archives.”

The three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will make an immediate impact by providing the funds to hire a full-time community archivist and to complete several projects the Southern Historical Collection has already undertaken.

These projects are all forms of community-driven archives, a type of partnership between a community and historical archival groups like the Southern Historical Collection. They are designed as a way for groups of people, particularly those who have been overlooked by historians, to preserve and tell their stories and history.

One of the collection’s current projects is an examination of the Appalachian Student Health Coalition, which was formed by students from Vanderbilt University in the late 1960s to provide free check-ups and healthcare services to low-income residents in the Appalachian Mountains.

Other projects include the Eastern Kentucky African-American Migration Project, the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, and the San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum.

They will be housed, along with the collection’s numerous other projects, in Wilson Library on UNC’s campus.  In total, the collection houses around 15 million items organized in to more than 4,500 distinct collections.

The Collection also plans to use the grant to educate community members and other archives about its archiving practices to expand the reach of these community-driven archives.

These plans include utilizing the “Archivist in a Backpack” initiative, which is a kit that includes instructions for archiving, document protection sleeves and audio equipment.

Along with providing those materials, the collection will also offer publishing workshops for community members to look back and record their experiences.