Documenting History

A new initiative seeks to preserve the change in Egypt through the eyes of the AUC community

Weeks after the historic AUC Tahrir Square bore witness to the 18 days of demonstrations that toppled the Mubarak regime, AUC announced the launch of a new project, University on the Square. The project documents the experiences of AUCians in the revolution through photographs, videos, testimonies and other digital material online, in addition to designated collection centers for the donation of physical items. It is one of several new initiatives created by AUC to integrate the revolution into the academic and cultural life of the University.

AUC President Lisa Anderson described the initiative as "a constantly evolving project that combines systematic archiving and creative exhibition in an effort to preserve the facts and feel of these transformative times in Egypt as well as at AUC," she said. "Individuals with compelling stories and captivating experiences will have the opportunity to schedule interviews with our staff to recount and preserve our oral history."

Project planners have already begun conducting interviews with members of the AUC community for their testimonies. According to Steve Urgola, co-coordinator of the Oral History Committee, senior librarian, University archivist and director of records management, there are approximately 80 people on the list of targeted interviewees, including students, alumni, faculty, staff, senior administration and Board of Trustees members, as well as security personnel at AUC Tahrir Square and vendors who have long served the Tahrir Square campus. In addition to those who are formally contacted, the project will set up booths on campus where those who wish to share a story can do so.

"Historically, oral histories have been important in adding texture to events and issues," said Kim Fox, associate professor of practice in AUC's journalism and mass communication department who is co-coordinating the oral history component of the project. "We hope to do the same by adding to AUC's oral history archives with the experiences of AUCians in the Egyptian Revolution. People who want to share their stories will be able to make an appointment to talk about their experience with someone from the oral history team. The audio recordings will eventually be available on AUC's Digital Archive and Research Repository."

While the project is currently in the data collection stage, the University plans to showcase materials through the Web, exhibitions, publications, seminars and presentations. In addition, AUC is launching After Tahrir, a Web site dedicated to coordinating the multitude of initiatives held at AUC New Cairo and AUC Tahrir Square that revolve around the revolution, from public lectures and panel discussions to workshops, courses and seminars.

To contribute to the project or for more information and updates, visit