Kay, Barry. “Angela Sitting in a Room.” Photograph. 1974. Digital Transgender Archive.

The urgency of digital preservation

In a world with content representing increasingly diverse narratives and cultural expressions, many stories risk being lost forever. Portico is committed to ensuring that these collections of content are not just preserved but are accessible for generations to come, helping to maintain a richer, more inclusive historical record. 

Portico is part of the nonprofit ITHAKA, whose mission encompasses sharing, preserving, and amplifying underrepresented voices. 

Portico’s underrepresented content preservation pilot

The theme of National Preservation Week this year is “Preserving Identities,” which is apropos of our pilot project focusing on safeguarding underrepresented and at-risk digital materials. These include cultural, scholarly, and historical content that forms an integral part of our collective history. Through strategic partnerships and innovative preservation strategies, Portico aims to keep these stories alive.

Portico is currently preserving four collections in this pilot project, each highlighting unique aspects of cultural and historical significance:

  • Ozarks Afro American Heritage Museum: Captures the rich cultural history and contributions of African Americans in the Ozarks, providing a window into the lives of members of this community.
  • Pilbara Aboriginal Strike: Details the 1946 strike by Aboriginal workers in Australia, a pivotal event in the struggle for Indigenous rights and labor recognition.
  • Bracero History Archive: Contains records from the Bracero program, which brought Mexican workers to the U.S. from 1942 to 1964, documenting their experiences and the socioeconomic impacts of this initiative.
  • Against All Odds: The First Black Legislators in Mississippi: Chronicles the challenges and achievements of the first Black legislators during Reconstruction, offering insights into their efforts to shape a post-slavery Mississippi.

Expanding our efforts: new projects and partnerships

Photographs – National Association of Colored Women Photo Album – #37-58, Unnumbered, Item 028. n.d. Photographs – National Association of Colored Women Photo Album – #37-58, Unnumbered.

This year marks significant growth in our efforts to preserve digital histories. Some of our future work will include:

  • Emmett Till Memory Project: Moving into a phase of enhanced features and expanded resources, with Portico as a partner in ensuring the preservation of this project.
  • Invisible Histories Project: Dedicated to the documentation and preservation of LGBTQ+ materials from the Southern U.S., capturing pivotal moments and figures in the community’s history.
  • Digital Transgender Archive: Focuses on preserving and making accessible the histories of transgender individuals, ensuring their experiences and contributions are recognized and remembered.

Additionally, through our work with Reveal Digital, we preserve entire collections that focus on marginalized voices.

This year, our primary goal is to cultivate partnerships with organizations that work with underrepresented archives as a way to expand our network of content providers for this project.

Enriching the future through history

At Portico, we believe that preserving diverse content not only safeguards the past but also enriches the future. By ensuring future access to diverse narratives, we equip future generations with the ability to develop a deeper, more inclusive understanding of the world. 

If you are a content provider with collections that reflect underrepresented histories, we encourage you to contact Portico. Your collaboration can help ensure these histories are preserved for the future.