Since launching the #ArchivesHashtagParty in August 2017, the National Archives has brought together over 600 archives, libraries, and museums around the world and reached millions of people on Twitter and Instagram. More than 48,000 tweets have used our campaign hashtags and the initiative has generated thousands of visits to the online National Archives Catalog.
Each monthly hashtag theme is chosen to spur discovery of our holdings, interest in our mission, and hopefully to spark delight in discovering archival materials. Although many of these topics– #ArchivesSquadGoals, #ArchivesGameNight, or #ArchivesDanceParty–may seem lighthearted, they make history accessible on a personal level.
After we hosted #ArchivesCute in September, Vox wrote that the theme “provides a glimpse into what a vintage Instagram would have looked like…When we think of historical archives and photos from the past, most of us tend to envision stuffy documentary footage, stone-faced ancestors posing for family photos, or famous moments in history captured by journalists on the scene. We certainly don’t think of history as aligning with the way we view the world around us today.”
Initially, we had planned a six-month run, but we received such positive feedback from audiences and cultural organizations alike that we decided to open up the #ArchivesHashtagParty as regular monthly digital gathering. It’s especially gratifying to see that with each installment in the series, we further our goal to be a convening force for cultural organizations that raises the visibility and impact of archives around the world.
One of the primary goals of the National Archives Social Media Strategy is to “cultivate a community of practice,” and this has been one of the guiding principles behind the #ArchivesHashtagParty. We designed the parties to be inclusive and easy for archives of all types to jump in and feature their own collections. After we saw the power of these digital gatherings to mobilize our community, we realized we had an opportunity to highlight the role of archives by inviting guest organizations to co-host themes.
In February 2018, our first guest co-host was the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who hosted #ArchivesBlackHistory. Today, Friday, May 4, our co-host is the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. We’ll share photos and stories about animal care and conservation with the theme #ArchivesAnimals. Through these kinds of takeovers we are able to broaden our range of subjects, enliven the series with fresh takes on engaging the public with collections, and reach new audiences.
The National Archives #ArchivesHashtagParty has ignited a social media phenomenon that is greater than the sum of its parts. Alone, each archive is a single voice in the crowded social media space; together we are attracting viral attention that acts as a multiplier of all of our individual audiences.
I am proud of the National Archives staff who have contributed to this campaign and have collaborated in a meaningful way, taking NARA’s social media efforts to a new, worldwide audience. They have also strengthened the global community of archives, bringing visibility to our collective holdings and the value of the work we do.
Learn more at: archives.gov/hashtagparty