Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has announced a set of partnerships with the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library; Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, South Carolina; Tuskegee University; the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University; and Southern California Library to collaborate on the creation of a national digital collection that highlights the roles and experiences of Black women in the women’s suffrage movement, as well as Black women’s history of activism, as part of the centennial celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Atlanta University Center and Tuskegee University are both HBCUs with collections documenting women’s history of organizing for political action in the South, according to a news release.
The Avery Research Center and Amistad Research Center are institutions committed to collecting, preserving and providing open access to the history and culture of African Americans and the diaspora.
The Southern California Library documents and makes accessible histories of struggles that challenge racism and other systems of oppression and holds extensive collections of histories of community resistance in Los Angeles and beyond.
“We are excited to be able to launch this collaboration with these five vital American institutions,” DPLA Executive Director John Bracken said in a news release. “Our mission at DPLA is to expand access to knowledge and information, and we are thankful to our partners and to Pivotal Ventures for enabling this collaborative effort to shine a light on an important piece of our nation’s history.”
DPLA Community Manager Shaneé Yvette Murrain added in the release that “the digitization of these collections focused on Black women represents an important opportunity for researchers, students, and the public to interact more intimately with the legacies of these inspiring women, and make connections to the present moment.”
The collaboration is powered by funding from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates.
Funds will enable the partner institutions to digitize artifacts related to the history of Black women in the suffrage movement, and, more broadly, women’s rights, voting rights and civic activism between the 1850s and the 1960s, in order to make these important collections more widely accessible, the press release noted.
“The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston is delighted to be a partner on this important grant as it aligns with our mission,” said Aaisha Haykal, Manager of Archival Services at the Avery Institute of Afro-American History & Culture.
“The grant is important to us as it provides us the space to expand the story of civil rights and activism in the South Carolina Lowcountry by centering Black women. Additionally, it supports the College of Charleston’s curriculum and research needs of the faculty and students,” Haykal added. “The selected collections represent an intent to demonstrate that women-led and/or focused organizations impacted many avenues of life including, but not limited to health, education, and politics. Through this funding we can digitize print and audiovisual materials, and via metadata remediation add and edit access points from previously digitized records in the Lowcountry Digital Library.”
The centerpiece of the Black women’s suffrage collection will be a new website that will surface artifacts related to Black women in the suffrage movement as well as original content providing historical context.
The site will launch later this summer. In addition, DPLA is partnering with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library on their Engage2020: Look Back, Move Forward events.