The main entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is now open. Van Pelt Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library are currently open to Penn Card holders, Penn affiliates, and certain visitors. See our Service Alerts for details.

Civic Engagement

Through Civic Engagement projects, the Kislak Center seeks to preserve and share the cultural memory of Philadelphia. In our collaborations and archiving projects, we center community needs, community knowledge production, and community voices. We create equitable relationships with community partners and organizations committed to remembering, celebrating, and sharing the lives and stories of Philadelphians with the world. 

An aerial shot of a cityscape: red-brick residential buildings in the foreground, a mix of low-rise and mid-rise structures transitioning to a skyline of diverse skyscrapers under a partly cloudy sky

What We Do

  • We work with local Philadelphians to preserve materials that reflect the city's history, culture, and traditions.
  • Through community events and digital humanities projects, we help make archives owned by Philadelphians more accessible to the community.
  • We consult and guide local organizations in stewarding their collections by carefully evaluating materials and spaces.
  • We support community engagement with the Kislak Center, creating partnerships within the community that help shape existing collections and address communal needs.

Selected Current Projects

Our Team

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Samantha is a Philadelphia native with a diverse career facilitating community-based arts, education, and cultural heritage projects. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, School of Information, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Before coming to Penn, Samantha collaborated with community organizations to produce archive-based exhibits and K-12 educational programs based on regional history, BIPOC social movements, and empowerment. Samantha developed projects for the Anchorage Museum, the Block Museum at Northwestern University, the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture at the University of Chicago. She is also the creator of the Kinship Project, a community archive of photographs & artifacts from African American families,1839-2012.

As the Curator of Civic Engagement, Samantha continues this work by collaborating with non-profit organizations to preserve and share the stories of our city’s diverse histories and cultures. She works closely with community groups to develop digital archives and special projects, extending access of Philadelphia-based collections for public knowledge.