October 31, 2020

Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute Awarded Grant to Create Comprehensive Digital Media Archive of #metoo

From the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study/Harvard University:

The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has embarked on a large scale project to comprehensively document the #metoo movement and the accompanying redefinitions of gender-based harassment and sex in the workplace.

Through the #metoo Digital Media Collection, Schlesinger Library will provide enduring scholarly access to content including social media conversations, press stories, and multimedia declarations and rebuttals: resources which are now pervasive in our collective consciousness and social media feeds, yet will prove acutely vulnerable in the long-term, as propriety platforms, individual user-accounts, and the ever-changing landscape of the Web continually transform.

The origin story of the #metoo hashtag is found in activist networks among women of color. The “me too” campaign was created in 2007 by Tarana Burke to support young women of color who were victims of sexual violence. During the last three months of 2017, #metoo became a viral hashtag as women across various industries began to share their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Entertainment, business, law, academia, journalism, literature, architecture, politics, STEM, and service industries: in all these arenas, accusations multiply daily. Almost no professional field remains untouched by #metoo.

Through #metoo, the whisper network that women had covertly shared to warn each other of abusers has become common parlance, and public statements about personal experiences with sexual harassment abound. In order for scholars to be able to contextualize, analyze, and study these and other documents of the #metoo moment, a vast trove of data must be assembled, preserved, and made accessible: social media posts, online forums, digital personnel manuals and other policy documents for publicly held companies, legal filings, news articles from small presses, party platforms for state and local elections, statements of apology and/or denial, personal testimonials, audio, video, and more.

The initial phase of creating the #metoo Digital Media Collection is funded by generous S.T. Lee Innovation Grant from Harvard Library. The project will be guided by a steering committee of renowned Harvard experts in the fields of history, law, business, and data science as well as librarians and archivists with expertise in digital preservation and data analysis.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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