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Watsonville is in the Heart: Community Digital Archive

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Objectives, Methods, and Processes

The Watsonville is in the Heart digital archive aims to:

  • Amplify vital but often overlooked histories of Filipinos in the Pajaro Valley 
  • Utilize community-centered archiving and historical documentation methods that align with ethnic studies, decolonial, and public history approaches 
  • Increase accessibility for diverse public audiences including local community members, primary and secondary students, educators, researchers, and scholars
  • Highlight visual sources, material culture, and oral accounts that expand our knowledge of Filipino American history along California’s Central Coast


The digital archive project combats marginalization of Filipino stories within dominant narratives of local and broader United States histories by highlighting lived memories that have been passed down inter-generationally through oral history, photographs, and family archival collections. The project challenges top-down relations of power that are embedded in institutional and university archives. The digital archive team commits to an ethics of co-creation that builds on Asian American, ethnic studies, and community-centered archiving pedagogies that privilege community perspectives and ways of knowing. Archive team members look to existing methods of grassroots historical documentation—such as genealogical research, scrapbooking,  family-curated collections, and crowdsourced historical information— that are already in practice among Pajaro Valley community members. These practices inform the crafting of archival descriptions and metadata (descriptive information like titles, description, location, and date); the structure and organization of the digital archive site itself; and the digital archive team’s collecting and documentation processes. 

Community-centered Archiving Processes:

The team utilizes two primary strategies for collecting and documentation. First, team members collect items for the archive at individual community members’ homes. During these intimate meetings, team members digitize items and conduct interviews in order to gain background information on items and family collections. Community members curate the items we digitize and arrange them based on the narrative they seek to share. The second method for collecting is by holding large-scale “archive drives,” an open call-out for community members to bring their collections to a public event location. At these events, team members digitize items and ask contextualizing questions about each object. Archive drives also provide community and team members the opportunity to mingle and to share stories and meals. Forming relationships is essential to our practice of building trust and community. The information and stories gleaned during individual meetings and archive drives are used to create metadata for the items featured on the digital archive site. As a result, community members’ perspectives are integrated into Dublin Core metadata standards that are utilized by Omeka, libraries, and archival institutions.