Chronicling Resistance Project Welcomes Mariam Williams, Project Director

Chronicling Resistance Project Welcomes Mariam Williams, Project Director

Mariam Williams, Project Director

The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mariam Williams as project director for “Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance,” a year-long research and public engagement initiative.

The Chronicling Resistance project seeks to determine and expand the role of special collections libraries and archives in sharing, preserving, and collecting narratives of a broad range of resistance movements throughout the region’s long history in ways most meaningful to its changing populations. The project has been funded by a discovery grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

“This is an important new step for PACSCL,” explained Sarah Horowitz, Head of Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford College and principal investigator for the project, “as we move beyond PACSCL’s usual scholarly audience to explore what resistance means to Philadelphia-area citizens, what stories have special resonance for them, what stories they think are not being told, and what stories they think should be preserved.” She continued, “We are fortunate to find a project director whose background as a writer, researcher, teacher, and manager of community-based cultural and historical initiatives can help us identify new audiences and new topics and build bridges between the special collections community and communities of activism.”

“I enjoyed working for an institute that worked to bridge the gap between academic research and activists who might use that research, so I was drawn to this project for its goal of creating a dialog between archival institutions and communities,” says Williams, whose background includes several years with a social justice research institution in Louisville KY; work as a screenwriter on the History Making Productions documentary, Octavius V. Catto: A Legacy for the 21st Century; experience as a community-based lab manager for the recently completed Monument Lab project; and conducting arts and humanities classes and workshops for young learners in Philadelphia and Camden. “I have a passion for community, history, and storytelling; I’m familiar with the tensions between communities and institutions; and I welcome the opportunity to provide vsion and leadership in the face of those challenges.”

Williams holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and both an MFA in creative writing and a public history certificate from Rutgers University – Camden, where she also contributed to the acclaimed Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.

The Chronicling Resistance project will draw on the expertise and networks of fifteen consulting partners drawn from cultural institutions, education (especially K-12), communities of activism, and the media. These partners will work with project staff and volunteers to frame an initial set of questions on the nature and meaning of resistance to take into a broader community through a series of neighborhood-based public events. At the end of the process, PACSCL expects to have identified its role in chronicling resistance and a set of activities, some internally-focused and some outward-facing, to engage the broad community in understanding, appreciating, and contributing to a sense of what resistance meant and continues to mean in the greater Philadelphia area. For additional information, visit or follow #ChroniclingResistance on social media.

The thirty-eight member libraries and archives of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) collect, care for, and share with a world-wide audience collections that comprise an internationally important body of unique materials for students, scholars and lifelong learners at any level. PACSCL promotes both a supportive special collections community and opportunities for members to leverage the power of collaborative work. It also encourages scholars, educators, and other diverse audiences to explore and engage with member institutions’ uniquely rich holdings.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. For the full list of grantees for this award cycle, see .

“Thinking Partner” Consultants — Chronicling Resistance

PACSCL has engaged a diverse group of “thinking partner” consultants to its Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance project. These consultants join with PACSCL members, the project staff, other cultural organizations, community groups and communities of activism to consider issues of resistance and memory.

  • Laurie Allen, University of Pennsylvania Library / Monument Lab
  • Bonnee Breese Benton, public school teacher
  • Rob Blackson, Temple Contemporary
  • Paul Farber, University of Pennsylvania / Monument Lab
  • Valerie Gay, Art Sanctuary
  • Ivan Henderson, African American Museum in Philadlephia
  • Katherine Kane, Harriet Beecher Stowe House (emerita)
  • Sean Kelley, Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Nathaniel Popkin, Hidden City / History Making Productions
  • Matt Rader, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Hazami Sayed, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture
  • Jessica Shupik, Public school teacher
  • Rebecca Traister, journalist
  • Morris Vogel, Tenement Museum
  • Tufuku Zuberi, University of Pennsylvania