Notes on curating an open access collection of political stickers
Catherine Tedford is curator of the Street Art Graphics collection, an open access collection of 2,700+ political stickers from the 1910s to today.
In this essay for Artstor, Tedford describes the archive’s inception and philosophy, and the ways that others are using the collection in their own scholarship and exhibitions.
I first noticed stickers by chance on a trip to Berlin, Germany, in 2003, and since that time have collected over 12,000 original stickers from over 20 countries around the world, including Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. While the stickers I first gathered were peeled off various surfaces of city streets (windows, electrical boxes, signs, etc.), I am now expanding my collection more strategically by acquiring original, unused stickers. At least half of the stickers in my collection come from Germany during trips I have made to Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. Oliver Baudach, founder and director of the Berlin-based Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, has been my most generous supporter and has given me well over 1,000 original, unused stickers. Other stickers come from artists, collectors, alternative and anarchist book fairs, zine fests, infoshops, squats, May Day gatherings, and political rallies.
At St. Lawrence University, I have been actively building a Street Art Graphics digital archive of stickers since 2004. The original digital archive, created in ContentDM, features over 2,700 stickers cataloged on an item-by-item basis using professional best practices and controlled vocabularies. In 2015, the archive project was one of 42 across the country to receive a four-year grant from the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges to participate in its Consortium of Digital Resources for Teaching and Research. The Street Art Graphics digital archive is being published in Shared Shelf Commons for much wider public access. Items in the archive also feed automatically into the Digital Public Library of America, a process made possible through Artstor.
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