BYU library launches Their Story is Our Story’s global refugee scholarly archive

Their Story is Our Story organization directors and volunteers celebrate the ribbon cutting for the global refugee archives at BYU. The new archive collection includes galleries of artwork, interviews, media and photography. (Addie Blacker)

BYU hosted Their Story is Our Story for a ribbon cutting and welcoming of the global refugee scholarly archive to the Harold B. Lee Library Thursday afternoon. 

According to the Their Story is Our Story website, the organization is nonprofit and “(travels) the world documenting refugee stories, refugee volunteers and refugee-supporting organizations.” The organization documents these stories to provide education and advocacy for refugees around the world. 

Directors and volunteers at Their Story is Our Story worked with BYU scholarly communications coordinator Ellen Amatangelo to curate a global refugee story archive. 

“We want to make sure that students, academics, journalists and anybody who wants to interact with firsthand refugee stories has the opportunity to do so,” Kristen Smith Dayley, executive director of Their Story is Our Story said. 

Robin Peterson, professional genealogist and director of archives at Their Story is Our Story, shared how she got involved with the nonprofit during the ribbon cutting lecture. 

She was brought on to curate the four collections for the archive after BYU donated an unlimited amount of database space to the organization for the project. “I take it very seriously preserving someone’s story,” Peterson said. “Everyone has played a part and we’re all just here to amplify these beautiful people’s stories.” 

The archive includes gallery collections of artwork, interviews, media and photography. 

Several art pieces were on display at the ribbon cutting lecture and digital prints of artwork from Their Story is Our Story were added to the global refugee scholarly archive.(Addie Blacker)

Students were also involved in the curation of the work through Their Story is Our Story’s BYU chapter. 

“There were multiple BYU students that were able to be directly involved in putting some of those (stories) together,” said Jarom Hickenlooper, BYU chapter president and a junior majoring in psychology and German.

Hickenlooper said students can get directly involved with Their Story is Our Story through internship opportunities and events the chapter puts on.

“There is a huge importance and need for changing our perception around refugees in our communities, which starts with proximity and stories,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to know someone’s story to know how to help them.” 

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