This project explores community-based research in the context of Digital Preservation. A group of graduate students from UC Merced is developing an active collaboration with two local groups within the San Joaquin’s valley - the Courthouse Museum of Merced (Merced Historical Society) and the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) - in order to explore the Built Heritage of Merced in relation to its communities, the formation of identities in San Joaquin’s Valley California and the development of the town of Merced. The starting point of this work is the survey of historic buildings of Merced made in 1985 that inventoried more than 900 historic buildings and houses in downtown Merced. The aim of the research will be to investigate how the digital publication of old datasets can have a high impact and relevance for the present day communities of these areas. The digitization and digital curation of the original dataset is made through an instance of the open-source platform Arches, specially developed for cultural heritage data by the Getty. The 1985-dataset will be updated and enriched with the participation of DNA members, as well as by undergraduate and graduate students adding new data based on traditional survey (HABS survey), digital survey techniques (photogrammetry, lasergrammetry), archive analysis, as well as interviews to develop a deeper knowledge of oral history of inhabitants and builders of Merced in relation to the evolution of the urban fabric of the town. In the background of the research, the project relies heavily on data curation, data integration, and information science methodologies, while in the foreground, it builds on the participation and transfer of knowledge between local partners and researchers actively engaged in the questions of communities, identities and heritage. The presentation will show a demo of the implemented data platform and the collaborative work activities that led to it.