Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Berkeley Woman Among Group Preserving Ukraine's History

Archivists from around the world are rushing to back up Ukrainian websites to preserve them amid the Russian invasion

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As bridges, monuments and entire Ukrainian communities are destroyed during Russia’s ongoing invasion, archivists from around the world are rushing to back up the country's websites to preserve them. Among them is a Berkeley woman.

“Our goal is to make sure that there are safe backup copies of as many websites as we can find that represent that culture and the lives of everyday people that intersect with Ukrainian culture,” said Quinn Dombrowski, an academic technology specialist at Stanford Libraries.

The effort is called “SUCHO” or "Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online."

It started on Twitter, shortly after Russia's invasion, when several people struck up a conversation about preserving music collections in Ukraine.

By March 1, a group of digital humanities experts was archiving everything from museum sites to census data to after-school language programs. More than 1,000 people were contributing to the effort by March 8, the group said.

“We have people digitally walking through the streets using Google Maps, looking for the museum icon to find museums. We may have been able to find up to that point,” said Dombrowski.

The army of volunteers is made of up archivists, librarians and even some elementary school students.

This includes Dombrowski’s 8-year-old son Sam, who switched out his video game controller for a laptop and a real-life mission to archive sites.

Quinn Dombrowski recently spoke with parents from Malcolm X Elementary School and got a few students there to join in the effort too.

“During this war, sites might go down and we need to make sure we have copies of them,” Sam Dombrowski said.

The team of volunteers has already seen an impact after saving data from sites they say just stopped working due to apparent non-payments or destroyed servers.

“The Kharkiv State Archives was a site that was physically damaged. But also, their website went down at the beginning of March and hasn’t been able to come back up again. And that’s a website that Sebastian was able to archive very early on," Quinn Dombrowski.

The group says they won’t stop until they’ve made a copy of almost everything they can find that makes up the essence of the Ukrainian people.

Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian invasion displaced more than 10 million Ukrainians — and many Ukrainians brought pets or even livestock with them when leaving home. But thousands of animals were left behind, in shelters that have had difficulty getting supplies amid the fighting. That's why New Yorker Courtney Chandel recently flew to Ukraine and volunteered at an animal shelter. She joined LX News' Jobeth Devera to talk about the immense need for help and supplies at animal sanctuaries in the conflict zone.
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