Shenandoah Living Archive


SLA Logo

The Shenandoah Living Archive (SLA) is a James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies initiative that engages students, the local community, and faculty in capturing, creating, and curating the real-time documentation of life in the Shenandoah Valley. Begun in Fall 2014, the goal of the Shenandoah Living Archive is to collect the stories of the communities that make up the rich tapestry of life in the Valley today. Materials include born-digital items (oral histories, images, video, geospatial data) and physical materials (flyers, pamphlets, diaries). A technologically rich space, the SLA encourages creativity, connectivity, and experimentation in the development of new content and digital storytelling--a remixing that will bring the materials in the Living Archive to life in new ways for audiences in the Valley and beyond.

Special Collections is just beginning to collect in this area. The first official collection to be added to the Shenandoah Living Archive is Ang Buhay sa Nayon--Life in the Valley Oral History Project, 2014-2015. This collection includes interviews, transcripts of the interviews, and photographs of seventeen individuals, most of whom are members of the Filipino American Community of the Shenandoah Valley, who arrived in the United States between 1963-2010. Ang Buhay sa Nayon is the initiative of Hannah Moses, a graduate student in the JMU's Local, Public, Regional History program. Ms. Moses created a digital exhibit thesis (, providing a snapshot of a rural community where people of all ages and all backgrounds live and share life together.

Until June 2015, the full interviews and transcripts will only be available for access in the Special Collections Reading Room. After that, the majority will also be accessible online. For more information about this collection, please see the finding aid for the collection.

An essential part of The Shenandoah Living Archive coming to fruition rests with JMU Professor Sean McCarthy’s Fall 2014 WRTC Digital Rhetoric class which took on the exciting task of prototyping the Shenandoah Living Archive concept; in particular, they looked for new ways to engage audiences with digital and physical primary source materials in the Archive.

Students in this class worked with a variety of archival materials from the Valley, some contemporary, some historical. They connected them to contemporary Valley life through in-depth research, conversations with local community members, in-person events and exhibits, and the creation of interactive websites. This class used modern technologies to remix andenhance archival resources, such as oral histories, census data, migration stories, and other historical documents. The work of this class in prototyping what “living history” looks like at JMU was instrumental in showcasing the exciting possibilities of the Shenandoah Living Archive. The presentation of their work is available in the Shenandoah Living Archive Prototype website. For additional information on the prototype project, please see

Shenandoah Living Archive Prototype - JMU News Release

Event: Using a drone to document urban renewal in Harrisonburg

Event: Outdoor cooking with an 1855 cookbook

Generous funding by the Peggy Brooks Burruss Endowment supported work on both these projects which document the Shenandoah Valley, the people who live here, and its environs.

For additional information about the Shenandoah Living Archive or Special Collections, please email or contact the Special Collections unit (540-568-3612).

updated 04/21/15 le