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New Heritage Bulletin: Researching Historically Marginalized Communities

May 29, 2018
Kam wah chung

Kam Wah Chung was a Chinese-owned grocery, dry goods store and clinic in John Day.

Historically marginalized communities are groups who have been relegated to the lower or peripheral edge of society. Many groups were (and some continue to be) denied full participation in mainstream cultural, social, political, and economic activities. Marginalized communities can include people of color, women, LGBTQ+, low-income individuals, prisoners, the disabled, senior citizens, and many more. Many of these communities were ignored or misrepresented in traditional historical sources.

HB34 Researching Historically Marganized Communities_Page_1_optMuseums today are seeking to expand their audiences and better serve their increasingly diverse communities. Efforts to highlight the comprehensive histories of any given community can seem challenging, as it is sometimes difficult to find information about underrepresented populations that were typically left undocumented in traditional historical resources.

Heritage Bulletin 34 provides research tips and guidelines on how to expand your research to be more inclusive in an effort to better reflect the diversity of experiences in your community.

This Heritage Bulletin was written by Amy Drake, museum consultant, and Chelsea Rose, historical archaeologist at Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology, with shared ideas that arose from a panel at the 2016 Heritage Conference. In addition to the authors, panelists included Gwen Carr of the Oregon Black Pioneers association, and Briece Edwards, archaeologist with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde contributed ideas.

Heritage Bulletin 34 includes the following concrete research tips:

  • Consider the Big Picture
  • Think Critically
  • Think Visually
  • Engage
  • Listen
  • Interpret

When researching historically marginalized communities remember, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Additional Heritage Bulletins that offer technical assistance for historic cemetery work, the National Register of Historic Place, general organization support, and collections care are available on the Oregon Heritage Website.

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