Since launching the #ArchivesHashtagParty in August 2017, the National Archives has brought together over 700 archives, libraries, and museums around the world and reached millions of people on Twitter and Instagram. The initiative has also converted thousands of social media fans to visit the National Archives Catalog.
Each monthly hashtag theme is chosen to spur discovery of our holdings, interest in our mission, and hopefully to spark delight in discovering archival materials. Although many of these topics– #ArchivesSquadGoals, #ArchivesGameNight, or #ArchivesDanceParty–may seem lighthearted, they make history accessible on a personal level.
After we hosted #ArchivesCute, Vox wrote that the theme “provides a glimpse into what a vintage Instagram would have looked like…When we think of historical archives and photos from the past, most of us tend to envision stuffy documentary footage, stone-faced ancestors posing for family photos, or famous moments in history captured by journalists on the scene. We certainly don’t think of history as aligning with the way we view the world around us today.”
It’s especially gratifying to see that with each installment in the series, we further our goal to be a convening force for cultural organizations that raises the visibility and impact of archives around the world. One of the primary goals of the National Archives Social Media Strategy is to “cultivate a community of practice,” and this has been one of the guiding principles behind the #ArchivesHashtagParty. We designed the parties to be inclusive and easy for archives of all types to jump in and feature their own collections. Guest hosts have included the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Zoo, American Experience, and the New York History Society.
The National Archives #ArchivesHashtagParty has ignited a social media phenomenon that is greater than the sum of its parts. Alone, each archive is a single voice in the crowded social media space; together we are attracting viral attention that acts as a multiplier of all of our individual audiences.
Organization: National Archives and Records Administration
Audience: curious nerds, history enthusiasts, cultural institutions
Role: Project champion and supervisor