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Archivo 15M Exhibition @ Bluestockings

February 18, 2013 Events Comments Off

Only 10 days left to view the Archivo 15 exhibit at the Bluestockings Bookstore in New York City. More details on their website:

15M Exhibition in NYC
On Display at Bluestockings January 9th – February 28th
Prints, art, and materials from the Archivo 15M in Madrid will be exhibited at Bluestockings from Jan 9th thru Feb 15th. The show was prepared by the caretakers of the archive of the 15M encampment in the square of Puerta del Sol in Madrid. This camp sparked the 15th of May movement throughout Spain, the strongest European echo of the Arab Spring, and the forerunner of the Occupy Movement.

On February 23rd, there will be a discussion @4pm on “The 15M Movement,” an activist movement that has changed the political landscape in Spain.


April 5th, 2013 @ SVA: We’re All Videofreex Symposium

February 7, 2013 Events Comments Off

ActArcs could not be more excited about this all-day symposium of former Videofreex members, the New York City-based collective that started in 1969 and used some of the first portable video systems available on the market to form an independent media outfit. Their work is currently archived by Video Databank, with duplicate VHS copies stored at Interference.

The event will be held at the SVA theatre on 333 West 23rd Street. It is free and open to the public:


Why Archive?

October 19, 2012 Resources No Comments

We are proud to announce that the WHY ARCHIVE? card has gone live. This project was begun with the help of the Internet Archive’s Rick Prelinger, who also wrote the initial text. Designed and edited by the Activist Archivists and members of the OWS Archive working group, the card spells out the importance of groups taking responsibility for the record of their activity in simple terms. Enlisting the help of communities in the process of saving their own history is vitally important, and it is hoped that this can act as an aid to making that case. These are meant to be general guidelines, and we urge prospective users to edit the content as they see fit in order to be of best use for their particular situation. While we do not require any sort of attribution, we would love to receive feedback on the ways in which the card is helping to make the argument for the importance of archiving on the community level. Click HERE to download your own copy.



ACCOUNTABILITY: Archives collect evidence that can hold those in power accountable.

ACCESSIBILITY: Archives make the rich record of our movements accessible. We can use them to ensure transparency, generate discussion, and enable direct action.

SELF-DETERMINATION: We define our own movements. We need to create and maintain our own historical record.

EDUCATION:  Today’s videos, flyers, webpages, and signs are material for tomorrow’s skill-shares, classes, and mobilizations.

CONTINUITY:  Just as past movements inspire us, new activists will learn from the experiences we document.


New York Archives Week 2012 Symposium: Archives and Activism

October 8, 2012 Events Comments Off

It’s Archives Week, y’all! And this Friday, October 12th, Marie Lascu and Dan Erdman will present Case Study: Year One with the Activist Archivists for the “Archives and Activism” conference hosted by the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (A.R.T.).  Click HERE to view the full program of the all-day event.

Registration appears to be full at this time, but interested individuals should follow-up with the conference organizers in case of cancellations:


Response to The Signal article on Activist Archivists

October 7, 2012 Blog No Comments

Howard Besser was recently interviewed by Mike Ashenfelder, writer at “The Signal,” a blog on digital preservation hosted by the Library of Congress.  The article makes a good, broad summary of the work being done by the various groups involved in archiving Occupy Wall Street.

However, it is apparent from reading the article that there is some miscommunication about the work we have done. This has become common in our relations with the media, but understandable. Off the top of my head, I can think of eight organizations and four ad hoc committees dedicated in some form to the preservation of the digital content pouring out of OWS. Sorting between the various groups – many of them working together on joint projects – and applying credit where credit is due can be an exercise in advanced calculus.  Still, I’d like take a moment to right some of the discrepancies in the article where I can readily see them.

1. The statement that “eventually the movement did archive their digital content with NYU,” is an extreme generalization. To our knowledge, the only facet of Occupy Wall Street actively submitting material to NYU’s Tamiment Library is the New York-based Think Tank group. The library is engaged in discussion with other OWS groups, but by no means can it be truthfully stated that OWS as a whole embraces such a partnership with what they perceive as a for-profit institution (NYU)*.


2. While ActArcs members did attend meetings of the OWS Archiving Group, we did NOT attend OWS Media Group meetings. We are in contact with several different key members of Global Revolution and performed a collection assessment on their material. Global Revolution is a member of the OWS Media Group, but is not confined to only OWS-related activism.

3. OMEKA was not installed on an OWS server, nor was it an Activist Archivist project, but rather one implemented by the OWS Archives Working Group with ActArcs in an advisory role. The open source collection management system was considered the best of all possibilities, but it never made it past a testing phase. ActArcs did have an active role in creating a metadata standard for cataloging Global Revolution material, though data entry was performed into a shared spreadsheet.

4.  ActArcs do not have plans to develop a phone application at this time. We do recommend content creators make use of the application Informacam, currently being developed in part by one of our collaborating organizations, WITNESS. Informacam is not for archiving purposes, but identity purposes. The app makes it easy to incorporate important location information, but does not allow a user to declare that an archive has a right to copy and/or re-distribute a work.  Therefore, the archiving world would greatly benefit from an app that is oriented towards the need of archives (or perhaps an extension to this app).

In an effort to keep the lines of communication open, we’d like to encourage those who are involved in archiving OWS to chime in their thoughts about the article, my own corrections, and add others as they see fit in the comments section.

*Legally, NYU is a private, nonprofit institution.


Remembering Dr. Michael Nash

September 4, 2012 Blog No Comments

On July 24th, 2012, Dr. Micheal Nash, Director of the Tamiment Library and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, passed away after a long illness. While members of Activist Archivists were aware of his condition, few of us expected the worst. Our conversations on moving forward often contained the phrase “When Michael gets out of the hospital.” The alternative just didn’t strike us; there was too much to do and Michael Nash was a man who got better.

Dr. Nash – whom everyone called “Michaelnash” as if it were a single word, or “Nash” as if he were a race car driver – was a giant teddy bear of a man with a furry cap of white hair and a boom to his voice. He was a regular presence at the OWS Archives Working Group meetings, fervently articulating the intentions of his archive as a home for OWS material into a sea of skeptical faces. His respectfulness of the working group members was duly noted and while the Tamiment’s connection to NYU was a knot in their relationship, most Occupiers who met him would agree to the quality of his character.

What impressed me about Dr. Nash is that the task of earning the trust of the Occupy Wall Street Archives Work Group was not a roadblock, but an expected, understood, and above all necessary part of a working relationship between archivists and a movement in action. Even during the fevered months in the Fall of 2011 when the working group began discussion on the fate and philosophy of the OWS archives, I never once saw the feelings of frustration reflected on Dr. Nash’s face. Meeting after meeting he sported the same enthusiasm, interest, and level of engagement. He answered questions and presented arguments every time he was asked to repeat them, each time as if it was the first time. His spirit of process left an indelible impression on me as a new archivist, and I think I can speak for all of Activists Archivists when I say that I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to witness his work in action.

From all of us in Activist Archivists, we’d like to offer his friends, family, and colleagues our condolences; the community of archiving and scholars of labor history have suffered a great loss in his passing. As archivists ourselves, striving to salvage the history of social progress, Activist Archivists will commemorate his life work by incorporating his patience, empathy, and sense of duty into our own.

Rest in Peace, “Michaelnash,” and thank you.

For more about his life and  work, please check out the following links:

Michael Nash on Wikipedia.

Announcement of his appointment as the Head of Tamiment.

New York Times article on the the Tamiment’s Time’s Up Archives.

NYT Article on the of Communist Party Archives.




Preservation Week 2012: ActArc Presentation Video Clips

July 1, 2012 Resources No Comments

In April, Activist Archivists participated in the American Library Association’s Preservation Week by hosting a presentation on archiving Occupy Wall Street. Many of you expressed regret that you were unable to attend, but fear not! Four of the six presentations are available at Archive.Org for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to share and share alike.

Also check out the Library of Congress blog on Preservation Week, ActArcs get a shoutout!

“Why Archive?” / Activist Archivists (Preservation Week 2012) – Kelly Haydon

Kelly introduces the evening by presenting the “Why Archive” video, which will be available for distribution in a few weeks.  She also gives a brief talk on some of the lessons learned from working with Occupy Wall Street activists.


Embedded Technical Metadata (Preservation Week 2012) – Rufus de Rham

Technical Metadata expert, Rufus gives an overview of his research on what happens to embedded technical metadata when a video is uploaded to Youtube, Vimeo and Internet Archive.


7 Tips to Ensure You Video is Usable in the Long Term (Preservation Week 2012) – Yvonne Ng

Yvonne, archivist for Witness.Org, explains ActArcs guidelines for creating a video record that lasts.


Collecting OWS Media (Preservation Week 2012) – Dan Erdman and Marie Lascu

Dan and Marie present on the challenges institutions have had responsibly collecting OWS video.


New York Times reports on Occupy and Archiving

Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times interviewed Howard Besser of Activist Archivists and Anna Perricci from the OWS Archives Working Group  about Occupy and archiving:

But despite the profusion of material online some archivists say that the historical record of the future may have some gaping holes. While Twitter, Facebook and other social media have been crucial to the movement, the terms of use of most social media sites prevent anyone from publishing material harvested from them. “Look back at the Arab Spring,” said Howard Besser, an archivist at N.Y.U. and [one of the founders] of Activist Archivists, a group created last fall to coordinate the collection of digital media relating to Occupy. “We actually have precious little that scholars can use to look at how things spread.”

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Update: A MayDay Livestream from ActArc, 2pm (and 8:30pm!)

May 1, 2012 Projects No Comments

Kelly has set up a free version of the Livestream channel here, and embedded below. If all goes well, we’ll start rolling at about 2pm from Washington Square. The footage taken today will serve as a guinea pig for research into an activist archival plan for preserving livestreamed video.

11:15am: It was discovered a bit late that Livestream does not have a phone application for Android, so we are switching over to uStream:

3:21pm:  Caught about 28 minutes of footage before the strain on the phone’ battery was evident. It took awhile for the NYU student rally to start up, but about 10 minutes in there are some great speeches, particularly from NYU Students for Justice in Palestine. Apparently, even though my phone is upright throughout most of this, the playback video is not.

Hopefully we’ll be able to stream some more tonight.

6:09pm: Back livestreaming the after-march party on Wall Street at 8:30pm.

10:59:  My Android would only stream upright if the phone was in a horizontal position. Livestream seems to shut off by itself after a certain point…at least on my phone.  I walked around downtown for an hour or so, but the cops successfully scattered the crowd with some brilliant re-directing of traffic and streets. Wall Street itself was jammed packed with cops on horses, all just staring at Broadway, waiting. A good group managed to assemble in courtyard near Battery Park.   It was too dark at that point to effectively stream, better to shut off the video and stream the audio.

Live broadcasting by Ustream


ActArcs Host an Event for American Library Association’s Preservation Week

April 20, 2012 Events Comments Off

What will happen to all of the audio, video, and physical material being produced around Occupy Wall Street?



How will we ensure that it is preserved for future generations?


Join the discussion



Come learn about some of the initiatives currently underway.



In association with the American Library Association’s Preservation Week initiative, Activist Archivists* will host a presentation and panel discussion focused on presenting our efforts, alongside the Occupy Wall Street Archives Working Group, to archive and preserve material related to the movement.

*Activist Archivists are a group of media archivists who aim to provide assistance on archiving and preservation matters in order to improve the discoverability of video that is being produced; to support the usability of video as evidence; to ensure that the rights and intentions of media creators are respected; and to ensure that the legacy of the OWS movement persists through open access.



Link to PDF version of this flyer: