The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is delighted to share that Archiving Reproductive Health (ARH) has been announced as the winner of the Digital Preservation Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy!
This Award celebrates initiatives for the practical application of tools to protect at-risk digital objects. Archiving Reproductive Health was nominated for the Award alongside the interdisciplinary research project Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinema and Preserving and Sharing the Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert Photographic Collection.
Organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), the prestigious Digital Preservation Awards ceremony is the most prominent celebration of achievement for those people and organisations who have made significant contributions towards a sustainable future for our digital assets. This year, the joyous presentation ceremony took place on Monday 12 September 2022 as part of the iPres 2022 Conference, which welcomed 700 delegates on-site in Glasgow and 200 more online. Digital Archivist and Coordinator Clare Lanigan and Postdoctoral Researcher and Digital Archivist Dr Lorraine Grimes accepted the Digital Preservation Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy on behalf of the ARH team. Commenting on the significance of the Award to the project, Clare stated that:
We’re really delighted, it’s so unexpected and wonderful to have our work acknowledged in that way. Of course, we’ve always known that preserving part of the story of how Ireland worked to repeal the Eighth is important, but it’s lovely to have this additional recognition from our peers in the digital preservation community. We’d like to thank the Digital Preservation Awards for this opportunity to make Archiving Reproductive Health’s collections more visible, especially as we will be adding to them continually over the course of the project. We’d also like to thank Wellcome for their support and trust in us – funding this kind of research is a valuable contribution for future generations.
Images: Archiving Reproductive Health Digital Archivist and Coordinator Clare Lanigan and Postdoctoral Researcher and Digital Archivist Dr Lorraine Grimes accepting the Digital Preservation Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy at the ceremony in Glasgow on Monday 12 September 2022. Images courtesy of the Digital Preservation Coalition
This year marks the third time that the DRI has been nominated for a Digital Preservation Award – the DRI project Amplifying change: A history of the Atlantic Philanthropies on the island of Ireland was recognised in 2020 and the Inspiring Ireland project was a finalist in 2014. DRI Policy Manager, and one of the Principal Investigators (PI) for the project, Dr Aileen O’Carroll spoke about the significance of winning the Award to the DRI:
The Repeal campaign was a social movement which succeded. It’s changed a constitution, laws, medical practice and now people in Ireland can access abortion services in Ireland. We have collected material from over 35 years of activity. The Archiving Reproductive Health collection spans time, space and domains of activity. We have a skilled and dedicated team who work closely with our stakeholder groups. We are honoured and delighted to have our work recognised by the international preservation community.
The Archiving Reproductive Health project aims to provide long-term preservation and access to the many at-risk archives generated by grassroots women’s reproductive health movements before and during the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution. Funded by Wellcome Trust and administered by the DRI, the project is publishing and making available digital collections from activist organisations that otherwise would be lost. The preservation of these collections adds significantly to our understanding of women’s rights movements and the history of reproductive healthcare in Ireland. The collections are also an important record of social and legal change in Ireland and their preservation in the DRI repository promises to safeguard the legacy of women’s reproductive rights activism whilst also paving the way for further research developments in this area.
Image: Archiving Reproductive Health Digital Archivist and Coordinator Clare Lanigan and Postdoctoral Researcher and Digital Archivist Dr Lorraine Grimes celebrating winning the award at the ceremony in Glasgow on Monday 12 September 2022
The Digital Preservation Award judges felt that the ARH project ‘was a visionary, contemporarily important project’, commenting that:
At this particular moment in history, where reproductive health has again become jeopardised in one country, making headline news across the world and impacting the potential futures of many people in both the US and other countries, it is important to ensure that the hard work, stories, and facts related to reproductive health and the 8th amendment in Ireland are preserved. None of us wants to fight these fights again, but we may well need to many times over, and for that possible future we will need accurate, factual records that may be currently at risk, to be preserved now – and for these efforts to be recognised.
The judges added that:
The project exemplifies many of the most important aspects of community archives. A large political moment is of incredible historical significance but as soon as it is over the digital outputs which informed its course can quickly be lost, whether by accident or design. It’s essential that the digital preservation community learn and implement the lessons from this work. So, while this project focuses on its own historical moment it has an important capacity to inform a great deal of practice as well outside of Ireland.
The Digital Preservation Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy is a significant recognition of the substantial work of the key stakeholders involved in this project, including the Abortion Rights Campaign, Together for Yes, Terminations for Medical Reasons, Coalition to Repeal the Eighth, and many others. The Award is also a testament to the dedication of the ARH project team: Digital Archivist and Coordinator Clare Lanigan, Postdoctoral Researcher and Digital Archivist Dr Lorraine Grimes, Software Developer Preetam Singhvi, and the project PIs Dr Natalie Harrower, Dr Aileen O’Carroll, and Dr Kathryn Cassidy.
Find out more about the ARH project on the project page.