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Amplifying Change Project

About the Project


‘Amplifying change: A history of the Atlantic Philanthropies on the island of Ireland’ (hereafter ‘Amplifying Change’) is a three-year collaborative project between Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), based in Dublin, and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) at Cornell University Library, New York, which was officially launched in August 2017. The aim of the collaboration was to build and disseminate a vibrant, sustainable, and openly accessible digital archive and online exhibition of the impact of the Atlantic Philanthropies grantees on the island of Ireland, consisting of select business records and new oral histories that reflect Atlantic’s grantmaking philosophy, approach, and impact in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Over 30 years, Atlantic invested €1.6 billion in Ireland, including Northern Ireland, to advance higher education, human rights, further the peace process in the North, and improve services and policies for young people and older adults. Atlantic wanted to ensure that their archives, and the stories and lessons contained in those archives, could be of benefit to researchers as well as to potential philanthropists considering investing in Ireland. The DRI was approached by Atlantic in 2016 to play a key role in disseminating these archives, and to explore the impact of the achievements by Atlantic grantees in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. DRI’s discussions with Atlantic turned into a 3-year funded project to explore the range and impact of Atlantic grantmaking on the island of Ireland. DRI was granted access to the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive housed at RMC, enabling them to play a role in providing persistent access to grant documents and in contextualising the stories that surround significant social and cultural change. Amplifying Change focuses on making collections about The Atlantic Philanthropies’ transformational investments in Ireland available online, digitally preserved for persistent access in DRI. RMC made the digitisation and clearance of grant files from the island of Ireland a priority to aid the DRI in their curatorial efforts.

The thirty Atlantic grantees involved in this archive project include non-governmental organisations, not-for-profit organisations, and charitable organisations that work to benefit human rights, education, and communities. Amplifying Change preserves a rich collection of materials, extending to 60 grant files, containing records that document the entire life cycle of Atlantic grants – from proposals, to final reports, to printed ephemera. These objects have considerable significance, as evidence of the wide impact of Atlantic Philanthropies’ investment in Ireland over 30 years.

The utility of records is threatened where context is lost. Alongside working with RMC on digitising and curating business records and publications from Atlantic’s Irish grantees, DRI has collected new oral histories that provide personal insights and stories from people across the island of Ireland who have been involved in Atlantic-funded projects. The 40 oral histories recorded by the oral historian are of key significance because the stories of the interviewees enrich the archive and provide contextualisation for the records as do the essays on the themes of human rights, education, and community commissioned to give historical and cultural context to the oral histories and grantee records. 

Amplifying Change was officially launched at a celebratory online event on 10 September 2020. The event recording has been preserved for long-term access in the Repository here: 

Digital Preservation Awards

Shortly after the project launched in September 2020, 'Amplifying Change' was announced as one of three finalists for the prestigious Digital Preservation Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy, alongside the long-established UK Web Archive and the League of Nations. This Award celebrates initiatives for their practical application of preservation tools to protect at-risk digital objects. The international panel of expert judges for the Digital Preservation Awards heralded the archive as a 'significant collaboration' demonstrating 'a lot of innovation as well as modelling and exemplifying best practice'. For the judges,

Atlantic Philanthropies is a watershed project, not just for the fully mature digital preservation tools and services which were deployed but for the fully mature digital preservation tools and services which are deployed. It shows that digital preservation is a viable proposition: and conversely, that data loss is a choice. 

The winners of the Digital Preservation Awards were announced on World Digital Preservation Day on 5th November 2020 as part of The Digital Preservation Awards 2020, an online world-wide celebration of significant and state-of-the-art contributions to securing our digital legacy. The Amplifying Change project team was honoured to be recognised as part of this celebration of excellence in the field of digital preservation.

Where can I access the collections?

DRI’s Atlantic Philanthropies collection has been developed using a thematic approach. The main themes include human rights, education, and communities. Sub-themes include LGBTQ people, migrants, disability, reconciliation, infrastructure, knowledge and learning, knowledge application, senior citizens, children and youth, and citizen participation. The thematic digital exhibitions for this archival project can be accessed at the following dedicated exhibition platform: 

The objects in this collection can also be accessed in the DRI repository: 

The Atlantic Philanthropies – Island of Ireland – Grant documentation:  

The Atlantic Philanthropies – Island of Ireland – Oral histories:  

The Atlantic Philanthropies – Island of Ireland – Publications:  

The Atlantic Philanthropies – Island of Ireland – Essays:

Amplifying Change Project Team Based at DRI

Anja Mahler

Anja Mahler was the digital archivist for the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive Project at DRI from Feb 2018 to Dec 2020. Anja was responsible for developing guidelines, collection structures, ingest schedules, and metadata policies for the project, as well as for the hands-on creation of metadata and ingestion of digital objects into the DRI and the digital exhibition platform.

Image Caption: Atlantic Philanthropies Digital Archivist Anja Mahler transferring oral histories, pictured in a polaroid 

Bláithín Ní Chatháin

Bláithín Ní Chatháin was the historical researcher and oral historian for the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive Project at DRI from June 2019 to October 2020. Bláithín was responsible for contextualising the Atlantic Philanthropies grant documentation by collecting oral histories from people across the island of Ireland who have been involved in Atlantic-funded projects.

Image Caption: DRI Oral Historian Bláithín Ní Chatháin preparing her interview with the community development worker at Dolphin's Barn, Dublin

Caroline McGee

Caroline McGee was the project lead for the Atlantic Philanthropies Archive Project at DRI from Aug 2017 to Dec 2018. Caroline was responsible for leading the project and working to highlight the transformative legacy of the Atlantic Philanthropies in Ireland across the social and cultural spectrum.

Image caption: Caroline McGee, pictured far right, at a meeting between DRI and RMC at Cornell University, New York