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The Oregon Archives Crawl

October 9, 2018

Written by Anne LeVant Prahl, Curator of Collection, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

What are you doing for American Archives Month this October? Every year about 500 Oregonians choose to spend some time getting to know their local archivist. Since 2010, a collaboration of institutions has presented the Oregon Archives Crawl. History buffs, students, and heritage tourists spend the day “crawling” between the three host institutions, visiting tables staffed with archivists from around the area.

Dreamed up by an optimistic group of Oregon archivists, the Archives Crawl organizes more than 30 participating archives into three, easy to reach destinations. Participants stroll from one venue to another, visiting hosted tables where heritage collections are displayed. They talk to archivists about their missions, programs, and collections. “Passports” are available at each site to help guide visitors through the 30 or more organizations represented.

Group at Archives CrawlThe power of the Archives Crawl is its ability to draw new faces each year.  Archives events are usually aimed at the people who are already engaged with our institutions; the Oregon Archives Crawl works to introduce new audiences as well as the patrons and supporters who come out to support the archives they love. Each year, informal polls of visitors consistently report that about 30% of the “crawlers” have never visited an archives or special collections before. That is irreplaceable outreach for a usually invisible profession.

The Oregon Archives Crawl is an annual feat of coordination achieved through the collaboration of colleagues. It is rare to see the kind of energy and enthusiasm required to bring this event to the public. At the end of the Crawl, the coordinators and presenters retire to a nearby pub to compare stories, visit more casually with “crawlers,” and start making plans for next year’s Crawl.

Details for the Oregon Archives Crawl

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