Tag Archives: Kigali Memorial Centre

Partnering to Preserve and Persevere: The Genocide Archive of Rwanda

Photos of victims of the Rwandan Genocide.

On June 9 — International Archives Day — the Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) partners Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre launched a new, greatly updated and expanded online Genocide Archive of Rwanda (http://www.genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw).

One of the most important resources online documenting the causes, processes, and consequences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, GAR demonstrates the generative impact that the Libraries’ programming can have. The HRDI project, begun in Rwanda in 2008, engaged staff and volunteers at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, a museum and documentation center for education and memory in Rwanda, to combine their personal experiences, deep knowledge, and historical resources with the technical expertise at UT Libraries in order to preserve and provide access to the fragile record of the Genocide that was daily being lost.

T-Kay Sangwand and Christian Kelleher meet with Rwandan officials.The first version of GAR, developed by the Libraries’ Technology Integration Services, Information Technology Architecture and Strategy, and Digitization Services departments using Glifos media software, was installed on a laptop and hand-carried by me and human rights archivist T-Kay Sangwand to Rwanda, where it spent the next year demoing the project to build local community, government, and international support.

Launched online in 2010, GAR enabled people in Rwanda and around the world to hear testimonies from Genocide survivors as well as perpetrators and elders in Rwanda about their experiences of Genocide, its root causes, and the lives and society that it destroyed. Photographs and historical documents were collected and digitized by Aegis Trust’s Rwandan staff to be added to the Archives at the Kigali Memorial Centre.Archive and preserved digitally by UT Libraries, and soon UTL was consulting on construction of a climate-controlled physical archive in Kigali in addition to the online digital archive.

The new Genocide Archive of Rwanda moves the archive to the cloud and integrates new mapping features, improved access to documents and photographs, and interactive tours of memorial sites around the country. The new site also includes features to engage youth in peace-building, and highlights important community renewal and reconciliation programs.

When recently retired Vice Provost Dr. Fred Heath and I attended the Kwibuka 20 commemoration ceremonies marking 20 years since the Genocide, Rwandan president Paul Kagame stated that, “Historical clarity is a duty of memory that we cannot escape. Behind the words ‘Never Again’, there is a story whose truth must be told in full, no matter how uncomfortable.” Born in the basement at Perry-Castañeda Library, and now managed in the cloud by a team of new information professionals in Rwanda, the Genocide Archive of Rwanda is a resource that preserves and gives clarity to the 1994 Genocide in support of memory, reconciliation, education, and scholarship in Rwanda, Texas, and around the globe.

The global impact of the University of Texas Libraries is made possible in large part to the financial support of individual, corporate and foundation donors. To contribute to projects like the Human Rights Digitization Project, please contact Natalie Moore or visit our online giving page today.

International Human Rights Day, Our Role (Updated)

It’s International Human Rights Day, and in the spirit of it, the Libraries can share news of its part in the opening of a new resource for the study of human rights.

Thanks in large part to the generous philanthropy of the Bridgeway Foundation in Houston, the Libraries established the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) in 2008, its initial charge to preserve digitally the records of human rights abuses in the Rwandan Genocide.

Though HRDI’s mission has expanded in scope since that time – it has since established projects with the Free Burma Rangers and the Texas After Violence Project, and is currently negotiating new plans in Latin America – the project to collect, preserve and make accessible the Rwandan records has continued with itinerant staff constantly moving between Austin and Kigali, the site of the Kigali Memorial Centre where the fragile and sometimes anachronistic materials were being held.

Today, the project reaches a milestone with the inauguration of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, a new and comprehensive repository for information related to the genocide. The physical archive housed on-site at the at the Kigali Genocide Memorial facility in Kigali will contain the original audiovisual, documentary and photographic materials in a secure, controlled environment. The digital archive will eventually contain copies of all audiovisual recordings and scans of all known documents and photographs will be accessible to researchers through a cross-referenced system that allows key word searches, first on-site and ultimately online. The Kigali Genocide Memorial will maintain network infrastructure, servers, and digitization and storage equipment for the digital archive, and a copy will also reside with the University of Texas Libraries.

Find more information about the project and the Libraries’ participation here.

You can see a featured interview video from the Archive here.

HRDI Archivist T-Kay Sangwand sat down for a reporter from National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition to talk about our role in the project. You can hear the interview and view some images from the Archive here.


T-Kay Sangwand is the Archivist for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative.

Since its inception in 2008, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative has garnered attention within the academic, archival, and human rights communities.  At the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting this week in Washington D.C., the HRDI hopes to raise awareness of its preservation partnerships and connect with members of the archival community who are working on similar projects.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, the newly formed Human Rights Archives Roundtable will hold its inaugural meeting.  In 2009, I worked with Valerie Love, Curator for Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections at the University of Connecticut, to establish SAA’s first Human Rights Archives Roundtable.  The Roundtable “aims to create a space for SAA members and other stakeholders (human rights advocates, scholars, government officials, and non-governmental organization workers) to increase dialogue and collaboration on issues related to the collection, preservation, disclosure, legal implications, and ethics of human rights documentation.”  The first half of the Roundtable meeting will be jointly held with the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives (LACCHA) Roundtable and will feature the panel, “Silence No More! Archives Threatened by Political Instability in Central America.”  The second half of the meeting will feature a presentation on the Center for Research Libraries’ “Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study” preliminary findings by project coordinator, Dr. Sarah Van Deusen Phillips.

SAA’s Oral History Section has invited HRDI Project Manager / Benson Latin American Collection Archivist, Christian Kelleher, to present on the HRDI’s work with the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and its collection of Rwanda Genocide survivor testimonies.  The Oral History Section Meeting will feature three other speakers discussing archival projects with human rights and social justice components.

If you’re in the D.C. area this week, please join us!