Schlesinger Library Awarded Grant to Create Comprehensive Digital Media Archive of #metoo

Photo credit: GGAADDPhoto credit: GGAADD
June 25, 2018

Cambridge, MA—June 25, 2018. The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has embarked on a large scale project to comprehensively document the #metoo movement and the accompanying redefinitions of gender-based harassment and sex in the workplace. Through the #metoo Digital Media Collection, Schlesinger Library will provide enduring scholarly access to content including social media conversations, press stories, and multimedia declarations and rebuttals: resources which are now pervasive in our collective consciousness and social media feeds, yet will prove acutely vulnerable in the long-term, as propriety platforms, individual user-accounts, and the ever-changing landscape of the Web continually transform. 

The origin story of the #metoo hashtag is found in activist networks among women of color. The “me too” campaign was created in 2007 by Tarana Burke to support young women of color who were victims of sexual violence. During the last three months of 2017, #metoo became a viral hashtag as women across various industries began to share their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Entertainment, business, law, academia, journalism, literature, architecture, politics, STEM, and service industries: in all these arenas, accusations multiply daily. Almost no professional field remains untouched by #metoo. 

Through #metoo, the whisper network that women had covertly shared to warn each other of abusers has become common parlance, and public statements about personal experiences with sexual harassment abound. In order for scholars to be able to contextualize, analyze, and study these and other documents of the #metoo moment, a vast trove of data must be assembled, preserved, and made accessible: social media posts, online forums, digital personnel manuals and other policy documents for publicly held companies, legal filings, news articles from small presses, party platforms for state and local elections, statements of apology and/or denial, personal testimonials, audio, video, and more. 

The initial phase of creating the #metoo Digital Media Collection is funded by generous S.T. Lee Innovation Grant from Harvard Library. The project will be guided by a steering committee of renowned Harvard experts in the fields of history, law, business, and data science as well as librarians and archivists with expertise in digital preservation and data analysis. 

Faculty:

  • Francesca Dominici, Professor of Biostatistics and Co-Director of the Data Science Initiative, Harvard Chan School for Public Health 
  • Jeannie Suk Gersen, John H. Watson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School 
  • Janet Halley, Isaac Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School 
  • Jane Kamensky, Professor of History, Faculty of Arts & Sciences and Pforzheimer Director of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  • Gary King, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor and Director, Institute for Qualitative Social Science 
  • Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ‘41 Professor of American History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences 
  • Kathleen L. McGinn, Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Jonathan L. Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, and Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government  

Library staff: 

  • Jane Kelly, Historical & Special Collections Assistant, Harvard Law School
  • Laura Linard, Director, Baker Special Collections, Harvard Business School
  • Michelle Pearse, Senior Research Librarian, Harvard Law School 
  • Amanda Strauss, Manager, Special Projects & Digital Services, Schlesinger Library
  • Hugh Truslow, Head, Social Sciences and Visualization, Harvard Library
  • Jennifer Weintraub, Digital Archivist/Librarian, Schlesinger Library

ABOUT THE ARTHUR AND ELIZABETH SCHLESINGER LIBRARY 

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study documents the lives of women of the past and present for the future and furthers the Radcliffe Institute’s commitment to the study of women, gender, and society. With the finest collection of resources for research on the history of women in America, the Library has especially strong holdings in women’s rights and feminism, health and sexuality, work and family life, culinary history and etiquette, and education and the professions.  

ABOUT THE RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is a unique space within Harvard—a school dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across all disciplines. Each year, the Institute hosts 50 leading scholars, scientists, and artists from around the world in its renowned residential fellowship program. Radcliffe fosters innovative research collaborations and offers hundreds of public lectures, exhibitions, performances, conferences, and other events annually. The Institute is home to the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library, the nation’s foremost archive on the history of women, gender, and sexuality. For more information about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute, visit www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.

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