Digital Archiving Resources

Sound Archiving Close to Home: Why Community Partnerships Matter


Sound Archiving Close to Home: Why Community Partnerships Matter




Vallier contends archives are not “value-neutral institutions” and due to their inherent power to represent and preserve historic artifacts in support of their institutional sponsors, archiving marginalized populations is particularly challenging. Vallier investigated various strategies for redressing past grievances by indigenous parties whose memorabilia had been improperly archived, including repatriating the artifacts. He also queried faculty and students on their perception of the archive and the relative lack of use by researchers. Vallier reasoned the relevance and political correctness of the archive could be improved by making greater use of community experts. Using his experience developing ethnomusicology archives, Vallier explained his motives and methods for soliciting community involvement and “joint ownership” of the archive. In the Filipino and African American communities of LA, Vallier tapped local volunteers and students to record, research, and describe the musical traditions of these respective communities. By enabling the donors to participate in the archive’s creation, the archive’s visibility and support by a larger public increased and Vallier parlayed these successes into another community archive documenting the diverse music cultures of the Puget Sound. Despite continuing financial challenges, he maintains “communal archiving efforts,” together with institutional outreach and repatriation of unethically archived items, counters the esoteric isolation of the archive and allows the archive to develop new knowledge.


Vallier, John






Polk, Victoria


Journal Article

Bibliographic Citation

Vallier, John. "Sound Archiving Close to Home: Why Community Partnerships Matter." Notes, v67 n1 (2010): 39-49.




Vallier, John, “Sound Archiving Close to Home: Why Community Partnerships Matter,” Digital Archiving Resources, accessed May 22, 2018,