Adam Matthew recognises our responsibility to increase the diversity of voices in our published resources. We are taking action to diversify the primary sources we publish, and the contextual and pedagogical tools created to help users access the historical materials. We intend to:
- Publish more resources that are about or feature underrepresented narratives
- Invest in strategies to uncover and digitise hard to find content
- Contextualise archival silences and amplify underrepresented voices in existing content
To achieve these aims, we will continue to utilise the expertise of our academic community and editorial boards, seeking to incorporate a diverse range of perspectives across subject specialists.
You can read more about our engagement with the academic community here.
Diversifying resource themes
Weâ€™re proud of our published resources that explore the histories and experiences of underrepresented groups, but weâ€™re committed to producing more resources that focus exclusively on these narratives. We want to ensure that the primary sources we digitise in these resources were created by or for those communities or individuals. We also want to ensure that a range of perspectives and experiences are reflected in all our thematic collections.
We consider it a responsibility to continue publishing archival records that can provide evidence for the violence and oppression perpetrated against marginalised groups but acknowledge that underrepresented communities and individuals should not be defined by their trauma. We are committed to producing resources that highlight histories of the success and creativity of marginalised communities and individuals, and where primary sources capture the narrative of dominant forces, will actively seek content which explores and amplifies the voices of peoples excluded from that narrative.
We aim to work with archives, and where possible communities and donors, to ensure all parties are compensated equitably when their histories are published in our resources.
Finding primary sources
Adam Matthew recognises that such aims are challenging because of the silences and hidden voices in the archives. We acknowledge that the archival record reflects historic and contemporary biases about whose stories are worth preserving and why. Adam Matthew also recognises that the act of digitising and publishing primary sources is influenced by our own experiences and biases.
To fulfil our aim to produce more resources on underrepresented narratives, we must invest in strategies to uncover historical sources, better understand biases in the archive and our own decision making and amend editorial practices to better incorporate creative approaches to research and diverse perspectives. We intend to:
- Widen our definition of primary source, to incorporate as many forms of knowledge construction as possible in our resources
- Invite a diverse mix of institutions to work with us alongside our existing partners, ensuring our relationships are equitable and supportive
- Seek advice from researchers, scholars and archival professionals who specialise in studying underrepresented groups
- Build in opportunities to challenge editorial decision-making to ensure decisions aren't unconsciously excluding underrepresented voices
- Identify opportunities where we might support conservation or cataloguing to help make more collections available for digitisation.
Contextualising primary sources
Where we find primary source materials created for, by or about underrepresented communities or individuals, we understand that presenting that content accurately and respectfully is key. Of equal importance are the contextual features that we publish alongside primary sources. Read in conjunction with historic material, these features are designed to aid critical analysis of the sources in teaching and research. We will explore features that:
- Amplify small amounts of content, or voices that are typically underrepresented within a discipline or research theme
- Contextualise primary sources created by or for underrepresented voices, placing them in historical context and illuminating key research themes
- Critically analyse sources written in the dominant narrative, acknowledging the power structures behind their preservation and prioritisation, and examining the impact on underrepresented groups
- Acknowledge where there are gaps in the record, and why there are gaps in the record, and provide contextual information about groups or individuals not covered by the primary sources to help build a less biased picture of a historic period or research theme