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Sheridan Libraries Announce Completion of Afro American Newspaper Digital Archive Project

901 S. Bond Street/Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
February 21, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Shields

The Sheridan Libraries’ Center for Educational Resources (CER) announced today the launch of an online database (http://morgue.afro.com/AfroArchon/) describing the archival materials held by the Afro American Newspaper. The three-year project, administered jointly by CER and the Krieger School of Arts and SciencesCenter for Africana Studies, was funded with a $476,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“The Afro holds an amazing collection of historical documents and images related to 20th century African American history,” said Moira Hinderer, who served as the project manager and is a lecturer in the university’s Center for Africana Studies. “The partnership between the Afro and Johns Hopkins makes these materials more accessible to scholars, students, and the public. With historic photographs of everything from Tuskegee Airmen to civil rights protests to local weddings and graduations, the database has something for everyone interested in history.”

Founded in 1892, the Afro has been a source for local, national, and international news for 120 years. During that time, the Afro preserved a large amount of historical materials, including more than one million photographs of African American life in Baltimore and beyond.

“This newly digitized access provides a wonderful window to an amazing resource base that will significantly enrich our knowledge and understanding—not only of our local Baltimore history but also the history of our nation and the wider world,” said Franklin W. Knight, Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History and Director of the Center for Africana Studies.

Mellon Foundation funding supported the work of organizing and describing the archives of the Afro. Over the course of this project, researchers and interns—including students from Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland—uncovered more than 2,000 boxes of materials filled with photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence. The newspaper’s morgue contains more than 150,000 subject files with clippings, images, and correspondence dating back to the 1920s.

“This project provides a wonderful model for collaboration among organizations that each, in its own way, is committed to preserving and making accessible a record of the past. It has been a special honor for us at Johns Hopkins to help make better known the remarkable history and achievements of our neighbor, the Afro Newspaper. We are all very much looking forward to the next phase of this endeavor,” said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums.

With the completion of this project, the Afro and Johns Hopkins are now beginning a new project designed to create online exhibits of the most interesting materials from the archives. As with the earlier effort, this initiative will involve collaboration among staff from the Afro’s archives, Sheridan Libraries, and student interns from Johns Hopkins and other area colleges.

A celebration to mark the launch of the online database will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 5:00 pm in the Gilman Hall atrium on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus.

The Sheridan Libraries encompass the Brody Learning Commons, the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, the Albert D. Hutzler Reading Room in Gilman Hall, the John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen Museum & Library, the George Peabody Library at Mt. Vernon Place, and the DC Regional Libraries. Together these collections provide the major research library resources for Johns Hopkins University. The mission of the Sheridan Libraries is to advance research and teaching by providing information resources, instruction, and services. The libraries were rededicated in 1998 to reflect the extraordinary generosity of Mr. and Mrs. R. Champlin Sheridan.


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