UEL staff looked at how the University could open up its extensive archives to the local community and how to promote access to its collections.
UEL archivist Paul Dudman said, “We were very keen to go out and engage with community groups beyond the traditional academic approach so we could more clearly understand the range and types of material that matter to these various groups, We could then aim to reflect that in the archival collections we hold here."
Activities included exploring the idea of creating a website that documents the experiences of refugees living in the UK.
The pilot project grew out of UEL’s existing Refugee Council Archive, which houses documents on refugees and forced migration originally compiled by the charity of the same name.
“We’re hoping to pilot a Living Refugee Archive website which we hope will improve access to both recording and documenting of refugee voices through the collection of oral histories,” Mr Dudman said.
Mr Dudman and Dr Rumana Hashem also hosted a special Archives Open Day in conjunction with Refugee Week 2015.
“We felt it was important to have an open day to encourage users who might not have known about the archives, or previously visited us, to come in and have a look around," Mr Dudman said.
“We want to showcase the kind of archive materials that we have and encourage feedback from participants about how we can develop the Archives and take it forward."
Mr Dudman and Dr Hashem also coordinated a workshop that looked at who accesses refugee archives; whether these archives adequately reflect the daily experiences of refugees and migrants, what kinds of experiences are included in refugee archives; and how access can be improved.