A First Look at the Occupy Archive

Curator's Note

On November 1, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media launched the #Occupy Archive to collect the digital evidence and stories from the Occupy protests. Users may browse collected items in the Archive and may contribute their own photos, stories, videos, or recordings on the Share form. Since launching, we have collected over 2300 items.

Many Occupy groups are using free and commercial web services to establish their online presence and communicate with the public. More than half of the groups listed in Occupy Together include a Facebook page as their main website, while others are using Twitter, Flickr, MeetUp, and WordPress. Because most of these materials rely on commercial companies for access, we felt it was important to archive sites and their accompanying materials.

Our collection reveals that original and referential graphic art of the Occupy movement, which is posted online and printed for distribution, employs a shared visual style. Most of the art created incorporates a black, white, and red color palette, and uses Sans Serif typography. Silhouettes of iconic buildings or a home state represent the local visually. Some art incorporates frequently repeated images to reflect solidarity with the larger Occupy Wall Street movement.

Recurring images, such as Guy Fawkes and the raised, closed fist, speak to a shared history with other anti-establishment political protests. While others, such as Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly board game, address real estate speculation and mortgage scams that have motivated many to become Occupiers.

We have yet to locate a central repository of suggested images, but there is an acknowledgement that Occupiers need to recognize copyrights when making publicly-distributed fliers.

We hope that this early look at the Occupy movement’s digital traces will encourage others to use the Archive in the future to contextualize the movement’s impact and legacy.

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