Radio Report: “Building An Archive In Real Time: How The History Center is Recording Pittsburgh Jewish History”
Genealogies, time cards, and newspaper clippings are among the hundreds of artifacts in the Heinz History Center’s Rauh Jewish History Program and Archives.
In response to last week’s deadly attack on a Squirrel Hill synagogue, the collection’s curators organized the Caring for the Community tour through the archives.
“We were started through a very unique arrangement that not a lot of other Jewish archives around the country have,” [Eric] Lidji [collections director] said. The collection began in 1987, and archivists traveled around western Pennsylvania gathering records and artifacts that are displayed throughout exhibits at the History Center and digitally recorded online.
“But this week, we got a historical moment dropped onto us,” Lidji said. “And we’re frantically trying to collect everything we can about it.”
So far, they’ve gathered physical items like programs from funerals and memorial signs, as well as digital content like sounds from vigils and social media links. Lidji is also trying to collect every sermon delivered at a Shabbat in the region from the last week. It’s unusual to collect materials like this, Lidji said, because he’s used to documenting history years removed from it. Now, he’s building an archive in real time.
“[We don’t want] future generation to forget what happened here this week,” Lidji said. “Both the bad and then the incredible good afterward.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.