Archive Talk: Reclaiming Memory

Dominique Taffin (taffin@cg972.fr) of the Archives départementales de la Martinique shares with us their plans in developing Caribbean Archive content.

Reclaiming Memory: how can Caribbean archives contribute?

Dominique Archives

The rise of historical consciousness

1.1 An overview of Martinique

  • 403 000 inhabitants
  • A French territory since 1635
  • From the colonial status to that of overseas region
  • Citizenship since 1848

1.2 Public history : history as a leisure or as a need?

1.2.1 Searching and teaching history in Martinique from the XIXth c. to present
1.2.2 New practices : Amateurs and general public, genealogy

1.2 Public history : history as a leisure or as a need?

“We were never taught our history” : the “our ancestors, the Gauls” syndrome

  • Teaching Martinican and Caribbean History at school
  • Decolonization, nationalism and identity : the role of history
  • The slavery issue

1.2.5 New practices : Amateurs and general public, Genealogy

  • First clubs : the “béké” club
  • The migrants’ club
  • Local clubs : family history, friends of Archives…

II First responses of Archives to the demand
2.1 Flashback on the history of archives in Martinique

  • 2.2 New directions for outreach since 2000
  • 2.2.1 Knowing more about the audience
  • 2.2.2 The action plan
  • 2.3 Outreach programs in education
  • 2.4 Outreach programs for the general public
  • 2.5 Assessing outcomes

2.1 Flashback on the history of archives in Martinique

  • Established 1949, building in 1973, extended 1998
  • Most old documents kept overseas
  • Educational programs since the beginning
  • But keeping themselves beside the public debate on history and its public usages

2.2 New directions for outreach since 2000

  • 2.2.1 Knowing more about the audience
  • Reading-room users
  • Visitors

2.2.2 The action plan :

  • how to reach new audience and reflect social diversity in the use of archives
  • How to address the urgent claims for memory
  • How to develop trust and make the Archives the Archives of the people : outreach and donors

2.3 Outreach programs in education

  • Meetings with the teachers :
  • The 2007 conference on « teaching history in the Caribbean »
  • Visits and workshops with schoolchildren
  • Publication of educational thematic books
  • Indian immigration
  • Women
  • World War I

2.4 Outreach programs for the general public

  • Exhibitions
  • Free colored people,
  • Catholic church and popular religion…

Dominique Archives 2

2.5 Assessment

  • Success of the education program
  • Improvement of the media image of the Archives
  • Exhibitions
  • What is left to do :
  • Moving from an « elite » audience to a popular audience
  • Developing traveling exhibitions
  • Conferences : targeting public expectations

III New perspectives

  • The Banque numérique des patrimoines martiniquais
  • The Martinican cultural Heritage Portal

3.1 Goals (Purpose and objectives)

  • 3.1.1 External objectives
  • a way to reach our distant public
  • a response to the urging demand for direct access to documents and knowledge : an ATM to history and culture?
  • reaching a younger audience
  • tuning “old world” notion of cultural heritage with a “new world” approach

3.1.2 Internal objectives

  • Revising our notion of Archives : resource +services
  • Refining the skills of the staff in interacting with the public
  • Learning how to work together with people having other skills

3.2 Merging access strategies to cultural heritage

  • 3.2.1 Archives, historical landmarks, artworks, untangible heritage altogether in one portal
  • 3.2.2 Networking and partnership wanted!

3.3 A tentative user-friendly approach

  • Integrating a GIS system
  • Easy search and filtered search
  • Multilevel approach for different audiences: general public, specialists, education
  • Collaborative indexation

As a conclusion
A renewed reflection on our 2002 outreach objectives
network and partnership : a better investigation on the social networks, and now the virtual ones that Facebook etc. have allowed
a deeper impact assessment of our actual audience so as to keep up with priorities of action
An efficient communication
And, above all, keeping from routine!

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