My Capstone project for the Public Digital Humanities certificate combines my background and interests in history, archives, and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. As a historian and a gender scholar who thought about women’s sexual vulnerability in both my research and the courses I taught, I became interested in the continuum on which the current #MeToo movement exists and the relationship between historical and contemporary manifestations of sexual coercion, exploitation, and violence. I believe that knowing that history can change our understanding of #MeToo in the twenty-first century, and that revisiting that history from the perspective of our current moment can give us new understandings of the past. With that in mind, I am in the process of creating a digital subject guide or LibGuide for personal papers and organizational records in the Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) that provide insight into “#MeToo in Historical Context,” including issues of sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and other sexual and gender-based violence. This project is an opportunity to draw attention to the longer history of sexual violence and coercion and to connect it to the local archives and experience in a meaningful way.
The LibGuide will serve as a discovery tool that identifies and makes relevant collections more accessible by assembling information about them in a single location and providing brief biographical/historical notes and #MeToo-specific scope and content notes that quickly inform users of the subjects addressed and kinds of material available within each collection. Thus far, I have identified over thirty IWA collections with relevant material and am in the process of researching and describing those resources. Subject guides like this one are created using the LibGuides app, which is part of the LibApps platform of applications that many libraries subscribe to. While LibGuides are more commonly created for library resources like books, articles, and databases, I have had the opportunity to create two other LibGuides for archival resources in the context of my work at the IWA. This project builds on that previous work and experience.
I hope that this tool will be useful to researchers, as well as to faculty and students in courses that engage with relevant topics. I began this project hoping that I could also find ways to connect the LibGuide and IWA’s resources with campus and community organizations like RVAP, the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, or Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity. For example, could the LibGuide have additional tabs that provide information about and/or histories of these local organizations for victims/survivors? Could the LibGuide be used as a starting point for inviting members of the public to explore material at the archives and think about this history in their own communities? As I move forward, I hope to explore the possibilities for meaningful engagement with local organizations.