Documenting Ferguson: Preserving the Protests; Remembering Michael Brown

The image was there for all to see. It proliferated online and through Twitter. There was a man, a teenager, face down in the road. There, in the median, lay Michael Brown. He’d been shot hours earlier. Michael Brown’s death created a wave of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. On Twitter, especially, the images proliferated. It wasn’t just Michael Brown, but images of a community in mourning, of confrontations with a militarized police force, of protests both peaceful and violent.

While people may disagree about the circumstances surrounding Michael Brown’s death and the ensuing protests, the Washington University Libraries have created a project to gather video, images, sounds, and stories created by those involved and affected by the tragedy. The project, Documenting Ferguson, showcases the submitted and approved media with the goal of preserving it for future use. It is a collection both by the community and for the community. It doesn’t offer one perspective, but many, like the story of Sara and Elizabeth who were handcuffed and escorted out of Busch Stadium during a Cardinals’ game for unfurling a banner that stated: “Racism Lives Here.”1

The project seems to follow in the footsteps of Our Marathon, a community-sourced digital archive and oral history about the Boston Bombing. The difference though could be in the pronoun. The Boston Bombing was an attack on an entire community. Our Marathon shows that united response back. Documenting Ferguson will have to navigate multiple communities who may not necessarily agree. The images and accounts of police officers may coexist with those of the protesters, a swirling of opposition, frozen in digital amber. Add your story to the project and help shape our history.

  1. Photo displayed above: Sarah Hermes Griesbach, “The banner that I was handcuffed for holding.,” WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions, accessed September 23, 2014, []

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