I regret that I was unable to join you in Atlanta last weekend for the National Conference of African American Librarians conference. As soon as I found out about the acceptance of our session proposal, my dear friend, Jinwen, informed me of her wedding date...August 11, 2017... in San Diego! As a bridesmaid, a big fan of Southern California, and a hardcore wedding enthusiast - I had to bow out of our presentation, Democratic Histories: Strategies for Engaging African American Communities in the Archival Process.
|5 bridesmaids and the flower girl standing near the alter at the #totalifontastic wedding of Jinwen Li and Chris Fong, photo taken by Tracy Lin in San Diego, California|
|Photo of cemetery, featuring an angel figure, flowers and the headstone Bernice Flowers; born: March 20, 1935, died September 31, 1973 in Grambling, Louisiana (2014), taken by Biff Hollingsworth|
|Photo of archival materials from the home of former Hobson City, Alabama mayor, Mrs. Willie Maude Snow - brought in to city hall to show the extent of dispersed collections (2014), taken by Chaitra Powell|
|Photo of an unprocessed archival collection in the Tuskegee History Museum in Tuskegee, Alabama (2014), taken by Chaitra Powell|
|Photo of an Eatonville baseball or cricket team, n.d. shared by Maye St. Julian in her home in Eatonville, Florida (2014), taken by Bryan Giemza|
|Photo of Chaitra addressing the audience about the Southern Historical Collection’s commitment to the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) during the conference in Chapel Hill (2015), taken by Jay Mangum|
- Document Rescue: The Administration Building of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor of organization held important documents in less than ideal environmental conditions. The building had been ravaged by storms and neglect, leaving it water damaged, dirty, and full of pests. The rooms within the building contained publications, insurance forms, photographs, and ceremonial artifacts that told the story of a Southern based, black fraternal organization. The Southern Historical Collection offered to rent a storage unit in nearby Cleveland, MS for three years and temporarily store the materials until an adequate permanent solution could be found. We worked with the community to move the materials into storage in October 2015.
|Photo of a van filled with moving boxes during the document rescue event at the Knights and Daughters of Tabor Administration Building in Mound Bayou, Mississippi (2015), taken by Chaitra Powell|
- Virtual Community Genealogy: In recent years, Mound Bayou has been the site of several field experiences for Duke and UNC graduate and undergraduate students. In the summer of 2015, students worked to compile biographical information on the town’s founders and early residents, up until the middle of the 20th century. They conducted interviews, visited local archives, perused obituaries in home collections in order to build a spreadsheet. In the fall semester, we were able to work with computer science students to turn this spreadsheet into an interactive and searchable website documenting the people, places, and organizations of early Mound Bayou.
|Screenshot of the cover page for the Mound Bayou Virtual Community Genealogy (2015), taken by Chaitra Powell|
- High School Student Outreach: One of our community liaisons, a former librarian, and I connected with the principal of John F. Kennedy High School, and organized an after school event in the library to discuss local history. Six students participated in several activities, one included creating an account for the Virtual Community Genealogy website, and entering biographical content found in primary source material borrowed from community members.
|Photo of Chaitra with the JFK High School students during the after school local history program in Mound Bayou, Mississippi (2015), taken by Ms. Edna Smith|