This is part 4 of 4 of my list of 92 people, groups, and projects that made me grateful and teary in 2019. There are people working all over the world to make things better and I honor each and every one of them.
69. The Archivists Trying to Save Human History from Climate Change. Because climate change is making weather more extreme, archives are in danger. “In the past few years, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma have damaged dozens of museums and cultural centers in New York City, Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean. This isn’t just bad luck. Because of climate change, hurricanes are happening more frequently. And since human culture is disportionately centered on coastlines, cultural repositories are at risk.”
(Haskins, Caroline. “Climate Change Could Erase Human History. These Archivists Are Trying to Save It.” Motherboard / VICE, September 17, 2019.)
70. Betty Corwin. Betty Corwin, who died in September, was the creator of the Theater on Film and Tape Archive. Active since the 1960s, Betty Corwin’s work was responsible for over 4,000 Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional shows being archived.
(Clement, Olivia. “Betty Corwin, Creator of the Theater on Film and Tape Archive, Dies at 98.” Playbill, September 17, 2019.)
71. Tribe of Noise and the Free Music Archive. The Free Music Archive is just what is sounds like — a repository for free music available to anyone. In late 2018, it was announced that Free Music Archive would shut down due to lack of support. After being bounced to a new owner in November 2018, in September 2019 the Free Music Archive was sold to Tribe of Noise, which has begun revamping the site in response to user feedback.
(“Global Music Community Tribe of Noise Acquires Free Music Archive.” PRWeb, September 18, 2019.)
72. Beard Board. Beard Board is an online community where men gather and talk about growing facial hair, but unusually for much of the Internet it offers kindness and support. The Atlantic describes it this way: “The site can feel like a haven, which is important, because while it’s nominally about beards—growing them, grooming them—in practice it offers a kind of group therapy.”
(Alden, William. “Where Toxic Masculinity Goes to Die.” The Atlantic, October 1, 2019.)
73. John Rothman. John Rothman, who died in September, was one of the primary developers of The New York Times Information Bank, which offered abstracts of articles from magazines and newspapers. It started getting off the ground in 1972, one of the earliest examples of online information resources.
(Sandomir, Richard. “John Rothman, Who Made The Times’s Archives Accessible, Dies at 95.” The New York Times, October 1, 2019.)
74. Dr. Alisha Knight. Dr. Alisha Knight is associate professor of English and American studies at Washington College who’s working on a project about the rise of African-American magazine agents around the United States in the 20th century. “‘The mission of these agents and this movement was to climb as well as lift up,’ Dr. Knight said. ‘The goal was to address racism and inspire a significant effort to rise up and be recognized as members of a national literary community.'”
(Montes, Olivia. “Tea and Talk explores African American print culture.” The Elm, October 3, 2019.)
75. Jacob Isaacs. Jacob Isaacs has been building walking tours that explore the Jewish history of San Francisco. “The main map collects Jewish sites across the city, from landmarks like Congregation Emanu-El to lesser-known bits of history, like Cable Car Clothiers, located at the original Montgomery Street location where founder Charlie Pivnick first opened it.”
(Mirsky, Maya. “New digital map offers walking tours of San Francisco’s hidden Jewish history.” Jewish News of Northern California, October 16, 2019.)
76. The Staff of The Michigan Daily and Student Journalists Everywhere. The Michigan Daily is the newspaper of the University of Michigan. Since 2009, it’s been the only daily newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan. About 300 student journalists work to inform the community as they also receive a higher education, and they’re not the only ones: “Student journalists across the country have stepped in to help fill a void after more than 2,000 newspapers have closed or merged, leaving more than 1,300 communities without any local news coverage.”
(Levin, Dan. “When the Student Newspaper Is the Only Daily Paper in Town.” The New York Times, October 19, 2019.)
77. Katharine Berry and Tinkerers Everywhere. Katharine Berry used to work for early smartwatch maker Pebble. When Pebble’s technology was acquired by Fitbit and its servers shut down, that might have been the end. But Pebble owners everywhere continue to use and enjoy their Pebble smartwatches, thanks to Berry and the Rebble Alliance. “Today, more than 212,000 accounts have been created—more than 10% of the two million Pebbles ever sold—and nearly 9,000 have subscribed.”
(Purdy, Kevin. “Rebble with a Cause: How Pebble Watches Were Granted an Amazing Afterlife.” iFixit, October 18, 2019.)
78. Everybody on Team Trees. More than 600 YouTube content creators got together with the audacious goal of raising $20 million by the end of 2019 to plant 20 million trees. They easily met the goal and continue to raise money.
(Alexander, Julia. “MrBeast partners with more than 600 YouTubers, including PewDiePie and MKBHD, to plant 20 million trees.” The Verge, October 25, 2019.)
79. Michael Gillespie. Michael Gillespie is one of those countless Internet heroes you don’t hear about. In his case he works to offer tools and assistance to people victimized by ransomware. He does not charge, even as he and his wife have faced multiple financial challenges.
(Dudley, Renee. “The Ransomware Superhero of Normal, Illinois.” ProPublica, October 28, 2019.)
80. Ingebjørg Blindheim. Ingebjørg Blindheim monitors about 450 private Instagram accounts to help people considering suicide or self-harm, alerting authorities when there are indications someone is in danger. She feels the need to do this work after losing her best friend to mental health issues.
(Nye, Catrin, Main, Edward, and Jolly, Joanna. “The woman who tracks ‘dark’ Instagram accounts.” BBC News, November 5, 2019.)
81. Manuel Parra. Manuel Parra has been working for about eight years to build an archive dedicated to telling the story of transgender people in Colombia. He has created an Instagram account, @ColombiaTransHistory, to share some of the over 50,000 archive items he has gathered on his many trips across the country.
(Noriega, Christina. “This Photo Archive Holds the Untold History of Colombia’s Trans Community.” Remezcla, November 2019.)
82. Ananya Chakravarti. Ananya Chakravarti, a professor at Georgetown University, moved from Egypt to Washington DC four years ago, and was surprised at what she found when she visited the U Street corridor in Northwest Washington. She and a team of students and activists are working to digitally-preserve what used to be known in the city as “Black Broadway,” an area of Black-owned business and culture.
(Lang, Marissa J. “D.C.’s Black Broadway is gone. A Georgetown professor wants to remind U Street newcomers of its history.” The Washington Post, November 8, 2019.)
83. Meera Devi and the Fact-Checkers of India. Misinformation and disinformation distributed by social media has been responsible for dozens of deaths across India. Meera Devi and others like her are working to bring truth and fact-checking to their communities.
(Nazakat, Syed, and Malik, Surabhi. “There is a growing tribe of truth warriors fighting false news in India.” Poynter, November 12, 2019.)
84. Fan Jinshi. Fan Jinshi is an archaeologist in China who’s spent over 50 years protecting the Dunhuang caves, an unbelievable site for Chinese cultural heritage. “Today, thanks to the work of devoted archaeologists such as Fan, Dunhuang boasts the world’s largest and best-preserved collection of Buddhist relics dating from the fifth to the 13th centuries.”
(Xia, Snow. “Heritage conservation in China: why ‘Daughter of Dunhuang’ devoted her life to keeping Buddhist caves and relics alive.” South China Morning Post, November 17, 2019.)
85. Jake Durell and Code for BTV. Jake Durell and Code for BTV have put together a Google Chrome add-on that makes it easier for convicted persons in Vermont with expungeable offenses to find them and get them off their records.
(Groves, Patrick. “Vermont Attorneys Leverage Open Source Expungement Plug-In.” Government Technology, November 21, 2019.)
86. Regan Sommer McCoy. Regan Sommer McCoy has spent fifteen years building the Mixtape Museum, an archive project dedicated to preserving the history and culture of mixtapes. “Documenting this history is at the root of the Mixtape Museum’s mission to establish a clear record of how hip-hop grew from its New York City roots into a dominant musical genre in the United States.”
(Almeida, Walyce. “Community Scholar’s Mixtape Museum Is an Ode to Hip-Hop.” Columbia News, November 22, 2019.)
87. Jaimee Swift. Jaimee Swift took her curiosity about a street named after Nannie Helen Burroughs and turned it into a database of over 160 Black women radicals. The database soft-launched in October and will have a more formal launch this year.
(Lisitza, Alexa. “There Is Now A Database Documenting The Stories Of More Than 160 Black Women Radicals Thanks To This Howard University Student.” Blavity, November 23, 2019.)
88. Rahul Sagar. Rahul Sagar has spent the last several years developing an index of 255 English-language pre-Independence magazines from India. These magazines are both an endangered archive and an essential record of India’s history. “No one who reads these periodicals can fail to comprehend the immense struggle – intellectual, moral, political, and social – that it took to realise India.”
(Sagar, Rahul. “Rediscovering Indian thought: How a scholar built a database of pre-Independence magazines.” Scroll.in, November 24, 2019.)
89. Feroza Aziz. Feroza Aziz started a video on TikTok with a tutorial about how to use an eyelash curler. It soon turned into a discussion on the plight of Uighur Muslims in China. Though TikTok banned her content, copies of the video spread to YouTube and Instagram.
(Kelion, Leo. “Teen’s TikTok video about China’s Muslim camps goes viral.” BBC News, November 26, 2019.)
90. Kathleen Siminyu and the Masakhane Project Team. It is estimated that there over 2000 living languages in Africa. The Masakhane Project wants to harness neural networks to translate African languages. “Masakhane works with groups like Translators Without Borders and academics to find language data sets. In addition to translating native African languages to English, the project will seek to translate dialects like Pidgin English in Nigeria or strands of Arabic in northern and central Africa.”
(Johnson, Khari. “The Masakhane project wants machine translation and AI to transform Africa.” VentureBeat, November 27, 2019.)
91. Kelvin Amaniampong. Kelvin Amaniampong is 14 years old and lives in Ghana. He is the co-founder of Scrolbooks, a platform intended to be the largest free digital library in Ghana. “Scrolbooks when fully completed will offer both JHS and SHS students 100% free BECE, WASSCE, Nov-Dec, etc. past questions and answers, as well as all the textbooks students at all educational levels in Ghana, require.”
(“Meet the 14-year-old boy who is revolutionizing education in Ghana.” GhanaWeb, December 28, 2019.)
92. Chris Harvey. The whole reason I’m doing this. Chris Harvey runs a Web that that makes free fonts and keyboard layouts available for indigenous languages. More than 100 languages are currently available.
(Barton, Katherine. “Why this ‘language geek’ provides hundreds of Indigenous language tools for free.” CBC, December 26, 2019.)