Diversity Award: Community Archivist Program, Austin History Center

The Community Archives Program, established in 2000 by the City of Austin through the Austin History Center, is a 2018 recipient of the Diversity Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing diversity within the archives profession, SAA, or the archival record.

The Community Archives Program engages communities in documenting the rich and diverse histories of African American, Latinx, and Asian American residents and their contributions to the city. Over the course of eighteen years, community archivists have developed best practices for establishing ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships with community groups based on trust and commitment to shared priorities. The success of their efforts is most evident in the variety of educational and outreach programs it supports as well as innovative and timely exhibits such as Mexican American Trailblazers, Finding Refuge in Austin, Travis County Negro Extension Service, and Women in Action. A growing recognition of the program’s influence has prompted the Austin City Council to incorporate the program’s invaluable historical perspective and leadership into its new strategic plan for city planning, which will continue to shape the future of the city and its communities.

One supporter who has worked closely with the program noted, “Diversity and inclusion is often talked about within the archival profession, but the Community Archivists Program is one archives taking action.”