Alexandria Black History Museum Receives Prestigious IMLS Grant

Page updated on Jun 14, 2021 at 4:00 PM

Increasing Access to African American Archives

Alexandria Black History Museum Receives Prestigious African American History & Culture IMLS Grant for Digitization Project
News Release, June 11, 2021

As we approach the celebration of Juneteenth we have some joyous news to share. The Alexandria Black History Museum, part of the Office of Historic Alexandria, is excited to announce that we are the proud recipient of a $243,356 grant from the IMLS Museum Grants for African American History and Culture that will partially fund a multiple year project that will run from July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2023.

“This highly competitive and generous grant from IMLS will enable the Alexandria Black History Museum to digitize, interpret, and make four important archival collections publicly accessible,” shares Audrey P. Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum. Documents, photographs, objects and other material from Alexandrian activists Ferdinand T. Day and Annie B. Rose, Washingtonian opera singer Ben Holt, and public relations icon Moss H. Kendrix will be digitized as part of this grant. The digitization process will include creating or updating catalog records and scanning or photographing collections items, resulting in approximately 20,000 records with images for public access.  The project will culminate in an exhibition on Moss H. Kendrix to open in the spring of 2023.

"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.".

“We are excited and honored to be a 2021 recipient of the IMLS Museum Grants for African American History and Culture,” said Gretchen Bulova, Director of the Office of Historic Alexandria. “Support from IMLS permits us share Alexandria’s vibrant African American history with new and wider audiences as well as educate future generations about Black excellence and achievement in Alexandria.”

“By digitizing these collections,” shares Audrey Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, “We will be able to provide increased public and research access, improve collections care by reducing future handling, and ensure best practices in collections management. It will also enable the Museum to develop future learning opportunities and programming for life-long learners, families, and school-age students.”

A series of small online exhibitions will also be developed that will explore the stories of these individuals from the archives and their respective roles in the overarching theme of civil rights and equity. These archival collections contain a wealth of material that will allow the Museum to better tell the story of the civil rights movement, self-empowerment, the African American image in American society, and the re-positioning of the African American in the wider American culture. These collections touch on important eras and issues, from slavery to the fight for equality. They bear witness to the stories of local grassroots activism that supported the desegregation of schools in Alexandria, the preservation of African American heritage sites in Alexandria, the global change in the depiction of African Americans in advertising, and the celebration and elevation of the civil rights movement through the operatic art form.

The digital content created by this project will support the invaluable work and ongoing commitment of Historic Alexandria and the Alexandria Black History Museum of telling the stories of the underrepresented and the marginalized and the central role that they play in the American story, both locally and nationally.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit IMLS and follow us on facebook and twitter.