HBCU Preservation Project

In partnership with The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, The HBCU Library Alliance, The Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and The University of Delaware Art Conservation Department, LYRASIS is sponsoring the HBCU Preservation Project. This 28- month project which started in July 2014 is Round 3 of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded initiative aimed at improving the preservation of significant photographic and magnetic media collections held by HBCUs. The current participating institutions were selected from among the sixteen HBCUs that were a part of the first two projects.

Each of these institutions received $56,000 grants to fund the preservation of selected materials and promote their usage by faculty and students. Among the materials being preserved are The Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center's photographs and audio recordings from the Interdenominational Theological Center collection which document the institution's impact on race relations and civil rights in the U.S. Many of the recordings reformatted in this project are available online.

The Hampton University Archives and Museum is preserving reel to reel audio tapes of slave narratives as well as glass plate negatives and slides documenting the lives of freed slaves.

The John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library at Fisk University is preserving photographs that document the history of Fisk University, Rosenwald schools, and such Harlem Renaissance luminaries as Marian Anderson, Pearl Bailey as well as audio oral histories.

The James B. Duke Memorial Library at Johnson C. Smith University is preserving images from the James Peeler collection that documents Charlotte's African American population from 1940's through the 1990's as well as video tapes from the Black Media Association that presented positive images of African Americans in media and countered negative portrayals on commercial television. Many of the Peeler Collection images that have been reformatted in this project are available online through the Digital Smith website.

The Tuskegee University Archives is preserving audio recordings of Civil Rights icons such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, and Stokely Carmichael as well as an unpublished documentary about George Washington Carver.

This project has engaged students in preservation activities and has encouraged them to consider preservation-related careers. During the summer of 2015 each of the five HBCU participants employed two student interns who gained experience working with collection materials and were exposed to careers in library and archival management, conservation, and environmental control.

The Image Permanence Institute, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center will each host an eight-week career internship for selected project interns during the summer of 2016. The three interns will work beside professionals and gain hands-on experience and deeper exposure to project-related fields.

When these projects conclude in June of 2016, they will have ensured the survival and accessibility of significant materials and their impact on scholarship.

Other participants in Rounds 1 and 2 of this project were: Bethune-Cookman University, Bowie State University, Fayetteville State University, H. Councill Trenholm State University, Jackson State University, Kentucky State University, Lincoln University (MO), Oakwood University, Prairie View A&M University, Tennessee State University, and Virginia State University.

For more information about the HBCU Preservation Project, please contact Project Manager Steve Eberhardt at steve.eberhardt@lyrasis.org.