In the late afternoon of Saturday, January 21, as the Boston Women’s March (175,000 participants, by official estimates) was coming to a close, we stumbled upon a display of many marcher’s signs affixed to, and placed before, the cast iron fence of the historic Central Burying Ground in Boston Common. Protesters had spontaneously posted hundreds, perhaps thousands of unique hand-made signs facing the crowded streets.
Upon learning that city park staff were ready to dispose of this ephemeral monument, we decided on the spot to attempt an impromptu rescue of this vast and diverse visual statement. We rented a van and when we began removing the signs and explained what we were doing, passersby, protesters and city employees joined in to help. A day later our truck-load of protest signs was boxed in temporary storage. We are now preparing the next steps to preserve these posters and make them accessible to scholars, the public and the communities who participated in the events of that day.
We believe that, beyond being a significant number of all signs brought to the protest, this archive represents a publicly curated collective artwork that speaks to the broad scope of diverse voices, ideas, opinions, illustrations, calligraphy, graphics and artful expressions from the people who created that historic gathering in Boston Common.
This website provides information and updates about our next steps for getting the material from storage into a digital archive. We will post a link to a participatory event where volunteers can help us sort through and digitize the collection.
We received numerous letters of support and offers to bring posters to us or upload images of them. While we cannot accept any more physical posters, this website gives you the opportunity to upload images of the posters you made or documented. As part of our project, we will make these images, as well as our digitized collection, available through our website, by collaborating with other digital archives and through future events.
– Nathan Felde, Dietmar Offenhuber, Alessandra Renzi
In association with the CAMD Art of the March project, Northeastern University Libraries is creating a digital archive of posters carried at the Boston Women’s March to be stored in and preserved in the Digital Repository Service. Posters submitted to the archive will be used to create digital exhibits describing the march’s various themes and topics.
If you attended the march and would like to participate, visit communitysubmissions.northeastern.edu and click the “Contribute an item” tab to contribute a photo of your poster to the digital archive.
Please keep in mind that the images submitted to the community submissions site will not be immediately available for viewing, though we will add highlighted submissions to the submissions homepage as they are approved.