Incubating for a while now, the collection and preservation project is just starting to make a more public appearance with the Deborah Willis event plus two workshops offered to introduce community members to the basics of handling their old documents and photos.
The first of these workshops was held at Beauchamp Branch Library on October 7, conducted by Kenneth Lavender, SU faculty in Information Studies. About 30 people attended and Lavender talked about "storage environments" (the single most important thing, he said) and how to think about archiving what you have. He'll conduct a follow-up workshop on November 11 at Dunbar Center that focuses on actual preservation.
Lavender said later, "Documents and photos aren't interchangeable, of course, but both need similar housing. We had some town meetings about this project. There were many statements of concern, from the Black churches and others, that children don't know their heritage or save anything, so these workshops can first of all help families and organizations like the churches create archives. And the goal is a center for such material, either physical or virtual."
Lavender and SU's museum studies faculty Teddy Aiken are also working toward a new Certificate of Advanced Study in Cultural Heritage that would coalesce projects and resources from across their departments, the libraries, cultural anthropology, fine arts and art history.
"Then Linda Littlejohn from the South Side Initiative called and asked about this," Lavender said. "Since the CAS will require 300 hours of internship, the collection and preservation project would be a good venue for interns -- it could be through Beauchamp or Dunbar or OHA. And the idea of the Schomburg Center involved in training interns meant an awful lot."
An SU associate vice president tasked with SSI's academic affairs issues, Littlejohn spoke last week in her office about the networks involved in the project.