November 22, 2021

Carleton University was recently granted funding as part of UCLA Library’s Modern Endangered Archives Program for a project that will lead to the digitization and preservation of 359 DVDs containing 700 hours of interviews with elderly Palestinian refugees recorded between 2009 and 2015 in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The Elusive voices: Preserving the stories of elderly Palestinian refugees is lead by Chris Trainor, Head, Archives & Special Collections, MacOdrum Library and Laura Madokoro, Department of History, Carleton University and Hicham Kayed, AL-JANA in Lebanon.

It will be undertaken by the Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts (AL-JANA) in Beirut, Lebanon, which works with marginalized communities and produces resources for children and youth. This project will ensure the preservation of the memories of refugee elders, which are becoming increasingly elusive, and will enable AL-JANA to advance its core mandate.

“Our part in the project is offering up support and liaising with Al-JANA,” says Chris Trainor. “Our staff here will be providing workshops on archival practices and being on hand for supporting the work being done with the interviews.”

The work is being done in Lebanon and at this stage of the project the work is to look into the feasibility of the complete preservation of the materials with the hope of more funding for the complete digitization of the records.

“While it has taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage, it has been a wonderful project to be a part of. Our takeaway with this project is being able to support the community,” says Chris. “There will not be any records that we end up with at the end, it is an opportunity for us to be able to use our experience to help preserve generational knowledge.