Take Back the Archive is a public history project created by UVa faculty, students, librarians, and archivists. It is meant to preserve, visualize, and contextualize the history of rape and sexual violence at the University of Virginia, honoring individual stories and documenting systemic issues and trends.
Here you will find documents, images, artifacts, articles, ephemera, and survivor stories. The nearly 2,000 items span the entire period of the university’s history, but concentrate mainly on the period from 1950-2015. They document not only incidences of sexual violence at UVa but the culture of the university surrounding rape, assault, and women’s and LGBTQ rights, and the intersection of sexual violence with race and racism. You will also find here the catalyst for this archive: the article “A Rape on Campus,” published in Rolling Stone in November 2014. Although later retracted, the article—and the public outcry that followed--prompted months of investigations and soul-searching that generated new university policies and, to some extent, altered attitudes about sexual violence at UVa. This archive seeks to document the long history of sexual violence that preceded the publication of the Rolling Stone article; the article itself; and the aftermath, which forced UVa into the national conversation about rape on campus taking shape at the time.
Our main goal is to document the occurrence and climate of sexual violence at UVa. But we also hope our application of digital humanities tools like Omeka and Neatline to this project can help establish a national model for college and university communities wishing to memorialize, historicize, interpret, confront, and end sexual violence on campus.