Un-archiving Post-industry

Un-archiving Post-industry is a remarkable project that digitally preserves endangered industrial heritage collections in Ukraine’s East, fostering engagement with this heritage among local communities. The project has also forged creative connections between collections and communities in Ukraine and other European regions grappling with de-industrialisation and post-industrial transitions, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Un-archiving Post-industry, UKRAINE

Collaborating closely with local archives and heritage practitioners, the project, led by the Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv, digitised collections at the Mariupol Local History Museum, the Pokrovsk Local History Museum and the Donetsk Regional Museum of Local History. Approximately 30,000 photo negatives and 82 films were digitised, encompassing press photo collections from the 1940s to the 1990s, company archives, family albums, home movies and amateur films.

Un-archiving Post-industry, UKRAINE

The project involved local stakeholders at every stage in order to empower local communities. The participants have included high-school students, former and current industry workers, educators and refugees. Digital copies were returned to local museums and individual contributors, while local communities actively participated in contextualising and presenting their materials, therefore retaining control over the use of their collections by external entities.

Co-leads on the project at the University of St Andrews delivered a series of community workshops in former coal and oil shale mining and steelmaking communities in South Wales, Northeast England and Scotland, where the digitised collections were placed in dialogue with UK archives and museum collections. By highlighting historic connections and the shared experiences and challenges faced by these regions, the project successfully framed the narrative in European, rather than national, terms.

Un-archiving Post-industry, UKRAINE

Un-archiving Post-industry unfolded in the years leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when the hybrid war in Donbas posed threats to local heritage and identity. In this context, the project sought to address the vulnerability of industrial heritage collections through the digitisation initiative. By capturing a unique record of community life in Donbas, the project also counteracted the weaponisation of the past and combatted the circulation of misinformation fuelled by Russian propaganda. Although some of this heritage was destroyed in 2022 due to the war, digital copies remain accessible, preserving the essence of the collections.

This smart and multifaceted project has achieved remarkable success in preserving industrial heritage in Ukraine’s East. With an incredible amount of digital data, the Un-archiving Post-industry project has developed an excellent archive that stands out in terms of its structure, data quality and searchability. The availability of this archive in Open Access ensures accessibility to a wide range of users. This is of even greater significance in the current context of the war”, the Awards Jury stated.

The project Un-archiving Post-industry shows the significance of industrial heritage throughout Europe, creating a network of smaller digital archives and experts. The level of cooperation among the partners was also of high quality, going beyond standard collaboration within a consortium. Its commitment to engaging local stakeholders fosters a sense of ownership and trust among the communities involved”, the Jury concluded.

More information
Contact: Iryna Sklokina | i.sklokina@lvivcenter.org.ua | uma.lvivcenter.org/en