Centre of Community Archives

The history of many communities, events and places would never be told if it weren’t for the passion and engagement of hundreds of individuals and groups that form the community archives movement. The Centre of Community Archives was established in 2020 on the initiative of the KARTA Centre and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to support this grass-root movement.

We share knowledge, we inspire and support initiatives of the archivists all across Poland. We help create new community archives to preserve as many testimonies of community life as possible, and to properly secure them. Together with more than 700 community archives from all corners of Poland, we foster interest in social history so that we can better understand the past and the present.

How do we operate?

  • We provide ongoing support to community archivists in developing their competences and professionalising their activities. We offer training and consultations to both novice and more experienced archivists. We create a platform for the exchange of experiences and for the integration of community archivists through the nationwide Congress on Community Archives. We also initiate formation of new archives, often responding to the question: „How do we get started?”.

  • We develop digital tools which render archivists’ job much easier. We increase the collections’ longevity and promote the idea of community archives. We run the Community Collections portal presenting documents of social life, photographs, audio and video recordings, published and described in the Open Archiving System—a tool which allows archivists to share and describe collections. Users can browse through more than 135,000 materials posted by 230 community archives all across Poland.

  • We co-create and popularise the institution of an archive. We spark interest in the community archives through organising cultural projects and publishing. There is great potential in the archives collected by a community—they evoke memories, they offer an impulse for a discussion, they can also serve as a point of departure for literary, theatrical or visual projects. We animate the community archives movement by organizing competitions, meetings and debates. We encourage authors to draw from the rich archival collections and from the stories hidden behind them.