About the HRDI

Through service to international human rights scholars, activists, and students, the University of Texas Libraries (UTL) identified a need to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations. In order to address this need, UTL established the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) at the University of Texas at Austin with a generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation in 2008. Working with activists, scholars, and organizations to identify electronic and analog resources that are particularly vulnerable to loss, the HRDI aims to preserve the most fragile records of human rights struggles worldwide, promote the security and use of human rights archival materials, and further human rights research and advocacy around the world. Additionally, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative has partnered with the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice to identify key strategic issues for the Initiative as well as provide relevant programming to the UT community and beyond.

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative is international in scope, with projects ranging from Kigali, Rwanda to the Burma border. In keeping with the University of Texas’ long-standing commitment to Latin American Studies, the HRDI is especially interested in developing and collaborating on new projects with human rights actors in Latin America. We welcome your suggestions and proposals for human rights documentation projects worldwide. For more information, visit our Work with Us page.

Current Projects

Kigali Memorial Centre – Kigali, Rwanda

The University of Texas Libraries initiated its special human rights documentation efforts through a partnership with the Kigali Genocide Memorial (KGM). KGM, established by the U.K.-based Aegis Trust in cooperation with the Kigali City Council, documents and memorializes the victims of the Rwandan genocide. KGM has created a corpus of hundreds of unique digital video recordings of genocide survivor testimonies and local court prosecutions of accused perpetrators. Our partnership allows KGM to retain ownership of all materials, while UTL makes secure digital copies of these recordings and provides the descriptive and technical infrastructure that will not only protect the material against loss, but also support the ongoing educational and outreach programs of KGM. UTL also provides training to the KGM staff, which ultimately boosts the sustainability of the Centre’s programming, documentation, and preservation efforts. The KGM materials are extremely important not only for their historical information, but also for their relevance to current conflicts in neighboring areas such as Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through a partnership with the HRDI, KGM materials are now available through the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, along with genocide documentation materials from other repositories in Rwanda.

Texas After Violence Project – Austin, Texas, United States

In 2009, the HRDI partnered with the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), an Austin-based non-profit organization that conducts video oral history interviews with people who have been directly affected by the death penalty, incarceration, and the criminal justice system in Texas. By collecting and sharing these personal stories, TAVP aims to promote dialog on effective ways to respond to and prevent violence. The HRDI is working with TAVP to ensure the long-term preservation and access of its digital video testimonies, transcripts and organizational records.

Free Burma Rangers – Southeast Asia

In 2009, University of Texas Libraries began collaborating with Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a non-profit organization based in Southeast Asia that provides humanitarian aid to internally displaced Burmese refugees and documents human rights violations that have occurred under the military dictatorship in Burma/Myanmar. Since 1997, FBR has amassed over 900 hours of digital video documentation, 1,000 gigabytes of digital photographs, and hundreds of printed reports and photographs. In the future, FBR hopes to use its collected documentary evidence in the pursuit of justice on behalf of Burmese victims of human rights violations. As with the Kigali Memorial Centre project, FBR retains complete ownership over its materials, while UTL produces and preserves digital copies of the materials and provides the technical and descriptive infrastructure for their long-term preservation and access. The project will increase FBR’s local information management and distribution abilities as well as contribute to future human rights scholarship and advocacy efforts.

Project Contacts

Theresa Polk
Post-Custodial Archivist
University of Texas Libraries
Sid Richardson Hall 1.206C | UT Austin

About the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center

The Rapoport Center is situated within the University of Texas Law School and "serves as a focal point for critical, interdisciplinary analysis and practice of human rights both locally and globally." Its mission is "to build a multidisciplinary community engaged in the study and practice of human rights that promotes the economic and political enfranchisement of marginalized individuals and groups both locally and globally."

Project Team

Anderson, Summer – Graduate Research Assistant (2009-2011)
Barnett, Doug – Chief Communications and Grant Officer
Choate, Aaron – Head of Technology Integration Service
Cooper, Mark – Graduate Research Assistant (2010-2011)
Fishman, Jessica – Resident Librarian (2009)
Hamilton, Amy – Undergraduate Research Assistant (2008-2009)
Hanson, Ladd – Head of Library Systems
Heath, Fred – Vice-Provost & Director of the Libraries
Joiner, Emily – Graduate Research Assistant (2009-2010)
Kelleher, Christian – Archivist, Benson Latin American Collection
Lamphear, Anna – Resident Librarian (2009)
Lee, Jennifer – Head of Preservation
Mutegwaraba, Henriette – Fellow, San Antonio College (2009)
Redding, Michael – Graduate Research Assistant (2011)
Rejack, Nicholas – Graduate Research Assistant (2009-2010)
Rushing, Amy – Metadata Librarian
Sangwand, T-Kay – Human Rights Archivist
Tenney, Martha – Graduate Research Assistant (2010-2011)
Wood, Kevin – Senior Systems Analyst

About the Bridgeway Foundation

The Bridgeway Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. Through their grants, the Bridgeway Foundation commits resources to a broad spectrum of humanitarian organizations and projects. Bridgeway defines its core issues as the elimination of genocide and promotion of peace, reconciliation and human rights. It also focuses more broadly on early and higher education, international human aid and relief, the Houston community, and other grassroots efforts.


Anderson, Jade – Information Architect Engle, Karen – Cecil D. Redford Professor in Law and Director of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice Grostic, Erik – Senior Systems Analyst Harlow, Barbara - Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literatures and Interim Director of the Rapoport Center (2009) Hunter, David – Music Librarian Kemp, Meg – Graduate Research Assistant Kerr, Tim – Information Analyst Kraft, Susanne – Technical Staff, Department of Radio-Television-Film Lisle, Robert – Information Analyst McFarland, Mark – Associate Director for Digital Initiatives (2008-2012) Villalobos, Matthew – Web Designer Williams, Steve – Webmaster, Developer