By Katie Goodale
On Saturday, Iowa City is set to host its first-ever Archive Crawl in the Main Library, Museum of Natural History, the Iowa City Public Library, and the State Historical Society of Iowa Research Center.
Each site will host different events from 11 a.m.-3 p.m, in which visitors are invited to get up close to artifacts, attend lectures, and watch demonstrations. Visitors can start at any of the four locations, in which participants can collect a “passport” that can be stamped and redeemed for prizes.
Jennifer New, a member of the planning committee at the Obermann Center, was influenced by a similar event in Portland, Oregon; however, her inspiration came from wanting to extend the conference festivities to local archives.
“I thought it would be cool to have an event that was open to the public and that was fun, and so this idea of a crawl came to me,” she said. “What inspired me was that we were having this conference, and I wanted to find a way to shine a light on the archives that existed locally, and I thought a crawl would be cool.”
The Archive Crawl is a part of the 2018 Provost’s Global Forum and Obermann Humanities Symposium, titled “Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice.”
The provost’s programs look at understanding how we can use history to help us break down barriers to justice. Though the crawl will be hosted before the three-day program is set to begin, on March 1, it still fits into the greater theme.
Maeve Clark, a coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library, said she was most excited to see people connect with portions of history that they may not know about.
“I’m hoping what they do is that they either get a deeper understanding of what kind of research we can help them do or learn that they actually can find things that [though] they live in Iowa City that might surprise them … The history about their house, their neighborhood, their street name,” she said. “All sorts of kinds of things that they might think they know about, but they don’t really know about. We can help them discover that and explore more of Iowa City’s history.”
The Archive Crawl seeks to shine a light on the local treasures of Iowa City museums, differing with the main ideas of throughout the rest of the symposium.
The process of getting all the organizations together is one that New describes as “chaotic.” Several of the groups reached out to, including the Johnson County Historical Society, don’t have physical sites on campus and were instead given tables for their participation in the crawl.
The Archive Crawl includes a surprise bonus site, Dada Futures. This site is usually available in the IMU Visual Classroom, located on the third floor. The digital collection can be seen at the Main Library for the day.
Colleen Theisen, a member of the planning team and coordinator for the UI Libraries’ physical location, said she was most interested in seeing people connect with history.
“… We have these amazing collections right here, so when I see that we can make a really strong connection between campus and our local community, and the people of the state of Iowa,” she said. “Hopefully, people will be pleased and surprised at the different collections that are here. Maybe they’ll find a connection to their own history.”