Thursday, September 06, 2012

$15,000 Grant Awarded to Archives to Digitize Heavily Used Civil Rights Materials

Newspaper clipping
The Birmingham Public Library Archives Department is delighted to announce it’s been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Alabama Public Library Service to digitize important Civil Rights era material. This project will provide a growing online community access to important, high use Civil Rights materials including arrest records of the 1963 Civil Rights demonstrators, early versions of Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and documents relating to the Freedom Riders and the 16th Street Church bombing. These materials are some of the most heavily used in the Archives and draw researchers from across the country and around the world.

The Archives’ Civil Rights materials are its most requested set of collections, comprising the majority of the 100,000 + files pulled annually for researchers served in-house, by telephone, and online. With approximately one million documents and photographs related to the Civil Rights Movement alone, the Archives collection is the largest related to the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement in the world. Each year the Archives serves researchers from 30 to 40 states and several foreign countries, and those researchers have produced over 300 published books in addition to articles, documentaries, dissertations and theses, and other original research. Digitizing these collections will undoubtedly create access for many—especially those who cannot visit the Archives or those wishing to bring primary sources into the classroom.

Kelsey Bates
Archives Department
Central Library

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