Between August 17 and 30, 2017, Tropical Storm Harvey -- later Hurricane Harvey -- crisscrossed the Southeast corner of Texas, killing 88 Texans, damaging or destroying more than 119,000 homes in Harris County, and causing as much as $190 billion dollars in damage. Behind these numbers are thousands of stories of loss, trauma, recovery, and resilience.
Soon after the flooding, a dialogue developed between Rice University, the University of Houston Libraries, Harris County Public Libraries, and Houston Public Libraries about how we might build a digital archive that enables people to share their stories about Harvey.
Funded through a Rice University Houston Engagement and Recovery Effort (HERE) grant, the Harvey Memories Project (HMP) aims to to collect personal narratives, photos, audio, and video about the experience of Harvey in a digital archive. Its core values include a focus on the community, diversity, compassion, and sustainability. Developing such a digital archive raises complex questions: How do we make the archive useful both to people who experienced Harvey and to researchers who want to study their experiences? How can we respect contributors’ privacy while inviting them to share openly? How do we design the archive to make it easy for HMP contributors from diverse backgrounds to submit materials to the collection, while also making it easy for all users to find objects in the archive?
The HMP is still at an early stage of development, and this presentation will not present final answers or a finished product; instead, it will invite attendees to explore the germination of a digital archive that honors personal experiences, contributes to a collective understanding, and raises issues pertinent to collecting digital objects meaningful on both a personal and communal scale.