UCLA Community Archives Lab envisions:

    • A world where independent community archives are fully funded and supported to do their important work.
    • An archival praxis that fully reflects the many liberatory theories and practices that already exist in communities. 
    • A society in which traces of the past are used to acknowledge, disrupt, end and repair historic and ongoing harm.

We do this by:

    • Conducting transformative research that reconceptualizes dominant Western archival studies alongside, in collaboration with, and in support of independent community archives.
    • Teaching and training a new generation of professional archivists in community-engaged and liberatory theories and practices. 
    • Supporting the autonomy of community archives through active and collaborative memory work.
    • Centering memory work in envisioning and enacting a more equitable and just world.

What are community archives?

Community archives are independent memory organizations emerging from and coalescing around vulnerable communities, past and present.

What is liberatory memory work?

Liberatory memory work empowers vulnerable communities to enact their own temporalities, to represent themselves autonomously, and to activate records to redistribute material resources more equitably. Liberatory memory work recognizes and leverages the power of emotion to challenge and transform existing knowledge systems; such memory work simultaneously dismantles oppressive archives and imagines and strives toward liberatory practices. What is at stake, ultimately, is not just how we remember the past, but how we distribute power in the present.


Thanks to the support of the Mellon Foundation, UCLA’s Community Archives Lab conducted a three-year (2018-2021) program to provide paid internships to UCLA Information Studies graduate students at community archives throughout Southern California. For more information, visit The UCLA Community Archives Internship Project page.  A white paper reporting on the impact of the project is now available.  The project has been renewed for 2021-2024 and involves a proposal to scale up the project nationally . 


We are delighted to announce our new whitepaper, “‘Come Correct or Don’t Come at All:’ Building More Equitable Relationships Between Archival Studies Scholars and Community Archives” by the Reciprocity in Researching Records Collaborative.

In 2021, the Texas After Violence Project, in partnership with the UCLA Community Archives Lab and the South Asian American Digital Archive, was awarded an IMLS grant to conduct empirical research and develop tools to assess digital technologies’ affective impact on the creation of records documenting minoritized communities. This project addresses many of the emerging needs of community archives, especially the growing recognition of the need to mitigate potential harms for record creators and users, and the growing dependence on digital technologies across the archives, museum, and library and information science fields in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From 2016-2019, the Lab’s PI earned an Early Career Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to conduct the “Assessing the Use of Community Archives” project.  That project examined the way Asian American, Latinx, and LGBTQ community archives in Southern California counter the absence or mis-portrayal (what feminist communication scholars have termed “symbolic annihilation”) of their communities in mainstream media and archives by providing both avenues for autonomous self-representation and politically generative future-oriented spaces for shaping collective memory. In addition to producing scholarship, the Community Archives Lab created a tangible toolkit for community archives to expand their practice, assess their own impact, and leverage their strengths to attract funding and support.