In 2021, we launched Communities & Crowds, an exciting research project that explores the use of ‘citizen science’ methods to develop more collaborative approaches to working with volunteers from local communities. As part of this project, a small team of local volunteers have been selecting and digitising images related to African Caribbean history from the Daily Herald Photographic Archive.
Alongside their digitisation work, the volunteers have taken the opportunity to lead on events occurring at the museum. For example, in October 2022, the volunteers were able to organise an event for Black History Month. They curated a selection of materials from the Daily Herald Archive to display as part of an interactive exhibition, during which visitors were able to engage with these materials through interactions and discussions with the volunteers. This engagement allowed for the intertwining of personal experiences, communal memories, and research information, creating a holistic interpretation of the archival materials that resonated with visitors to the exhibition.
When I joined Communities & Crowds as the new Research Associate in October 2022, the project was at the precipice of an exciting new phase. After a year of curating a collection of digitised images, volunteers have started to develop a citizen science project based on Zooniverse, a digital platform that invites people from around the world to participate in and contribute to research projects through collaborative working.
This Zooniverse project will be based around the images from the Daily Herald Archives that have been selected and digitised by the project volunteers. Through workshop sessions, volunteers have been able to identify their main goals and objectives for their Zooniverse platform, emphasising the importance of capturing not only data related to the digitised images, but also the reactions and experiences of online volunteers to the subjects and related histories of the images as well. There is also much interest in expanding access to the photographic collections internationally, particularly to Caribbean communities and the wider African Caribbean diasporas. The volunteers have expressed much excitement over the potential for international collaboration on this project, with the hope of generating discussion inspired by depictions of the Caribbean islands from the Daily Herald Archives.
With the start of 2023, we are aiming to finalise the planning of the Zooniverse project, with a launch date tentatively set for sometime in Spring 2023. Please watch this space for more on this exciting phase of the Communities & Crowds project, as well as further information on how you can participate as an online volunteer!