Matthew Coody, Executive Director, New York Preservation Archive Project

Proposal Type


  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking Specific Expertise
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Inclusion
  • Oral History
  • Preservation

We propose a panel discussion that explores the failures and successes of initiatives working to document underrepresented voices across America today. This session will introduce leaders of such projects to one another (and their projects to the public), strengthen the resources and toolbox for such initiatives, and expose the diversity of voices that are currently being captured. As panelists we envision featuring a representative from our organization to speak on our diversity-focused oral history project (outlined in the proposal description), leaders of other such projects, and interviewees from these projects. The panel could be moderated by a representative of the National Council on Public History or some other such expert.


The New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP) was established in 1998 to preserve, document, and celebrate the history of preservation in New York City. One of our core strategies in this mission is capturing oral history interviews with significant figures in the local preservation movement. Since our founding we have conducted over 100 interviews, most of which are available to the public through the NYPAP website ( Over the past two years NYPAP’s oral history team has sought out previously underrepresented stories of preservation efforts by highlighting the histories of sites significant to minority communities. These interviews have been transcribed and are now available to the public in full text, audio, and video via our website. Through this initiative we have strengthened our public collection of oral histories about long-standing campaigns to preserve the unique history and character of New York City’s richly diverse communities. By reflecting these narratives, NYPAP’s oral history collection has become a more comprehensive and inclusive resource for future researchers and preservationists. Due to the success of this first phase, NYPAP recently secured supplementary funding to expand the project in 2017 and plan related programming within the communities documented by the project. We propose a panel discussion that features this project alongside other such initiatives that work to document underrepresented voices. As panelists we envision a representative from our organization, leaders of other diversity-focused projects, and interviewees from such projects. This panel has the potential to cross typical boundary lines between professions, introducing leaders of such projects to one another, strengthening their resources and exploring tools to jumpstart campaigns, and exposing the diversity of voices that are currently being captured across America today. It can also explore why these voices need to be prioritized, the issues and opportunities the projects have encountered, and the failures and successes of such initiatives that are meant to bring us together while inherently isolating the “other.” We are interested in getting feedback on potential panelists who could share their diversity-focused projects alongside ours and speak on the various issues involved. We are also interested in suggestions for moderators with expertise in this topic. Lastly, any more general ideas for developing the proposal would be much appreciated.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Matthew Coody, [email protected]

If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature below.

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.





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