Why Build a Digital Archive?
Digital archives have the power to weave together objects and texts otherwise siloed by time and space. In so doing, this kind of archive, built explicitly to link data and objects, reflects and forges interpretive possibilities among digital objects housed on this site.
My goal in creating this site is not simply to display digital objects, but to put them into dialogue with one another, to draw out latent or under-studied connections by making strategic use of the affordances of Omeka and the pages of materials reproduced herein. Omeka's use of "items" that can be integrated into digital exhibits enables builders of this project site to curate or integrate objects as an interpretive method.
Archives take many forms. Some archives are made of documents written by famous people. Some are housed in boxes under peoples’ beds. Others do not call attention to their identity as archives, such as a cemetery or an historic garden, but still operate as figurative or literal archives. The meaning of the word archive has expanded in recent years with the rise and awareness of digital archives and thematic research collections as scholarly platforms for interpretive curation and knowledge production.
With this approach in mind, this site has been designed specifically to inspire and enable interactive, experiential readings of the writing remains of members of the Lyon family. Interactive projects on The Lyon Archive are designed with the intention of helping us imagine perspectives frequently excluded from the dominant historiography of London life. Yet the archive is not a mirror of another world. It does not display objective truths about writers or the past. Rather, like any other archive, The Lyon Archive is an interpretive ecosystem where a curated collection of ideas and images interact to produce narratives and an interpretive framework.
This site presents some of the ways that platforms like Omeka.org, read as a repository, not only house objects, but shape their meanings through metadata, interface, links, collections, and other systems of containment that place digital objects on the site into interactive play. While many of my students were initially skeptical about building an archive of items, creating a map, or designing a timeline, in the end they were excited about the way these tools helped them to think about the significance of A.S.Lyon's writing acts and his diary.
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Click here to return to The East End Digital Library
Click here to visit The Polack Archive
Click here to return to The Lyon Archive homepage