Habitat for Humanity KC Archive Digitization

In anticipation of its upcoming 40th anniversary, Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City hired David Buck of Buck & Co. LLC, a Kansas City public history consultant, to help digitize their decades of archival materials. In addition to preserving these materials for the future, Habitat KC hoped to use the photographs and documents that the collection contained to highlight key moments in their history leading up to and during the 40th anniversary celebration.

Buck hired me as the project manager. In that role, I spent the summer overseeing a group of Habitat staff members and volunteers as they scanned items, wrote descriptions, and uploaded them to an internal Omeka database. I wrote a tutorial on using Omeka for the project, answered questions and offered guidance on using metadata, and contributed substantially to the scanning, as well. Together, we turned a spare office full of dusty boxes and piles of papers into a fully searchable database of almost 2,000 objects. As we went through the items, I also identified key moment’s in Habitat KC’s history, many of which were previously unknown to current staff members.

After our summer work was complete, staff members in charge of the 40th anniversary asked me to write a one-page summary of the organization’s history as well as brief write-ups on key events to use in their 40th anniversary timeline. The final version of that timeline can be seen here. Habitat continues to make excellent use of the archival materials as they prepare for the anniversary celebration, turning them into #tbt (Throwback Thursday) posts on social media and incorporating them into marketing for the celebration.


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