Frederick Douglass Library at UMES Preserving History

  • Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Frederick Douglass Library - Suz2PRINCESS ANNE, MD-The Frederick Douglass Library at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore is undertaking an initiative funded through grants that, when completed, will enable the preservation and eventual digitization of historic print-based documents and photographs from the university's archives.

    "It is expected that when these historic photo negatives are reviewed and brought to life by a specialized archivist, we will be exposed to the greatest pictorial history this institution has to date," said Shelia Bailey, interim dean of the library.  "It has the possibility of chronicling 38 years of UMES activities during a major growth era for the university."

    Made possible by a recent $4,200 grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the library s newly formed grant writing and archives teams are developing a strategic preservation plan for the material.  They will focus on how and what should be preserved.

    The collection includes documents from 1886-1959 and historic photo negatives from 1951-1989.  The items include five biographies, 327 newspaper clippings, two pictures, 41 photo prints and 11 speeches.  Donated by a collection from Thomas Wiles, former chief photographer and instructor in the department of fine arts, the photo negatives number some 14,000.

    "These early documents and the photo negative collection also showcase the history of UMES and its significant ties to Princess Anne and the impact of African-American culture and activities on the Eastern Shore," said Bailey.

    A second grant application is pending from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  If awarded, it will provide basic preservation training to staff.

    The library has no time to spare in this endeavor, as it is hoping to submit historical archive information to a project, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alliance Digital Collection, before its submission deadline of March 2009.  Over 20 institutions are partners in the HBCU Alliance Digital Collection.

    "Being invited to be part of the HBCU Alliance Digital Collection allows us to be included in the chronicle of work being done by peer institutions across the country," said Bailey. "We are looking forward to submitting archival documents and pictorial works representing the breadth and depth of our university."                                                                              

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    Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, gcstephens@umes.edu.