Classroom Use


Silences & Content Warnings

Some major ethical considerations that we would suggest teaching in conjunction with the materials in our archive:

Silences in the archive- silences in the archive is a term used to describe materials that are not included in an archive, particularly with regards to the experiences and perspectives of marginalized peoples. This is a concept that has been written about a lot in archival literature of the past thirty years. For more resources on this concept, see our resource list and particularly the works by Michelle Caswell and Lauren Klein. For more information on the particular silences in our archive, please see our project narrative.

Trigger warnings- This term has gotten a lot of attention in the media over the past five or ten years, but is often used with a lack of precision. Specifically, trigger warnings are bits of text that warn about possible triggers for people with PTSD, so that they can prepare themselves and decide whether or not to engage with a particular material. Some argue that because people who experience PTSD can be triggered by such a wide variety of things, trigger warnings may not always be practical or helpful.

Content warnings- Similar to trigger warnings, content warnings are bits of text that warn people that the material they are about to engage with is of a sensitive or violent nature. This gives people the opportunity to prepare themselves and decide whether or not to engage with the material. We think these may be appropriate for the use of many of the materials in our archive in a pedagogical setting. For more information about trigger warnings and content warnings, please see our resource list and particularly Katariina Kyrölä’s article “Negotiating Vulnerability in the Trigger Warning Debates.”

Future Directions: K-12

Our current resources revolve around teaching about sexual violence in a university context. However, as the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network’s statistics show, students are more likely to experience sexual violence during the first few months of their first and second semesters of college. This means that preparation and prevention needs to start before students arrive at their universities. We think that starting conversations about consent and sexual violence is necessary in K-12, and particularly high school, education and that primary sources, such as ours, can be used to support these forms of education and engage with the complicated histories and power dynamics from which our culture of sexual violence emerges. If you are an educator and would like to work with these themes or use our materials, please get in touch by emailing Lisa Goff at [email protected]. We would love to feature your materials or reflections here.


The following are a few resources that we found helpful in guiding our archival process and that we think could be helpful for teaching and thinking about this archive.

Arondekar, Anjali. "Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive." Journal of the History of Sexuality 14, no. 1/2 (2005): 10-27.

Caswell, Michelle. Archiving the Unspeakable : Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in Cambodia. University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

Caswell, Michelle. "Teaching to Dismantle White Supremacy in Archives." The Library Quarterly 87, no. 3 (July 2017): 222-235.

Jules, Bergis, Ed Summers, and Dr. Vernon Mitchell, Jr. “Ethical Considerations for Archiving Social Media Content Generated by Contemporary Social Movements.” Documenting the Now White Paper. Shift Design, Inc., the University of Maryland, and the University of Virginia. April 2018.

Klein, Lauren F. "The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings." American Literature 85, no. 4 (2013): 661-688.

Kyrölä, Katariina. "Negotiating Vulnerability in the Trigger Warning Debates". In The power of vulnerability, (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2018) accessed Jun 13, 2019

Punzalan, Ricardo L. and Michelle Caswell. "Critical Directions for Archival Approaches to Social Justice." The Library Quarterly86, no. 1 (January 2016): 25-42.