Columbia Crisis of April 23-30, 1968

Project Director: Ashley Jones

Source of Materials: University Protest and Activism Collection, Columbia University Archives

Description of the Project and its Significance

The Columbia University Archives plans to create a comprehensive online exhibit and digital archive to illustrate and enrich the story of the most recognized and influential student demonstration in the University’s history: the strike of April 23-30, 1968. The online exhibit will be designed to mirror a physical exhibit recently displayed within the Archives, marking the fortieth anniversary of the event. Like its physical counterpart, the online exhibit will provide primary documents to represent the perspectives of various participating factions. The digital format will, conversely, allow for far greater accessibility of materials from a wider range of mediums. The exhibit will feature an objective, easily comprehensible narrative detailing each day of the strike, in addition to the event’s precursors and its long-term impact. The incorporated archival materials will supplement this narrative. The corresponding digital archive will house the entire series of items selected for this project and will be accessible to the public through an easily browseable and searchable online database. Projected future phases of the project will establish two additional sections of the site that will be devoted to educational resources and community relations, respectively.

The one-year project, formally titled The Columbia Crisis Online Exhibit and Digital Archive, will undoubtedly prove useful for researchers of varying levels — including scholars, genealogists, students, educators, activists, and the general public. The activist movements of the 1960s have consistently drawn a great deal of historic research as well as popular interest. As Americans are now able to look back at this time period from a reasonable distance, we can begin to make comprehensive conclusions about the real impact of these movements. The digitization and dissemination of the materials within our project’s website will be of significant value to those who seek to understand this turbulent, highly distinctive era and the zeitgeist that its youth espoused. Allowing the documents to be easily accessible online will allow a greater portion of the public to form connections with the subject area, through primary objects that they may not have the means to personally obtain.

The 500 carefully selected documents that compose this digital history project have originated from several thousand items stored within the vast University Protest and Activism Collection at the Columbia University Archives. The bulk of the collection is centered on the momentous student strike of April 23-30, 1968. This event is by far the most recognized and frequently used by researchers amongst the entire collection. The materials accessible within the online exhibit and digital archive are derived from a multitude of mediums, such as flyers, correspondence, news clippings and press releases, transcripts of electronic media reports, memoranda, legal documents and meeting minutes.

The Columbia Crisis Online Exhibit and Digital Archive will continue to thrive and expand after its initial establishment, with an additional growth phase already in planning. The Project Director is a full-time staff member at the Columbia University Archives and will assign specific student employees per semester to assist her in the efficient maintenance of the site. The Archives staff take great pride in its efforts to both preserve its most frequently used holdings and to broaden access capabilities to wider spectrums of the public. It plans to incorporate this digital history project, as one of its first, into various workshops, professional conferences, and regular reference services. The project will also seek to create a strong web presence through various methods of publicity, including site partnerships, postings to listservs and forums, and links through Columbia University’s main website and the Columbia Libraries homepage.

* General project description and selection policy Columbia Crisis-general

* Project Management Plan Columbia Crisis-management

* Digitization policy with three sample documents -Columbia Crisis-digitization

* Tagging guidelines with one tagged document. Columbia Crisis-tagging

* Website Index. Columbia Crisis-index

* Added Value and search tools. Columbia Crisis-added

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