$500,000 grant will help UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Historical Collection preserve African American history

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$500,000 grant will help UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Historical Collection preserve African American history


(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Jan. 27, 2016) – The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library will use a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to help establish a permanent African American Collections and Outreach archivist.


The new position will lead the effort to collect the untold stories of African American communities,

something the SHC views as critical to improving historical research and understanding. The Library is already working to raise the $1.5 million required to meet the grant challenge.


“To have a conversation about race, you must first have an honest dialogue about history,” said Bryan Giemza, director of the SHC. “That requires access to a complete documentary record, reflecting a full range of perspectives and experiences.”


In addition to acquiring significant materials for the SHC, the archivist will partner with African American communities in the South to help them tell their own stories by identifying and preserving documents, recordings, photographs and memorabilia.


Carolina archivist Chaitra Powell believes this emerging model of “community-driven archives” has already proven fruitful.


“My work with communities is about helping them curate their own history in a way that is responsive and respectful,” said Powell.


Powell and the SHC have already realized successes through a partnership with the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance; relationships with the African American communities of the Triangle; and a collaboration with sociologist Karida Brown and the historically black coal mining town of Lynch, Kentucky, which is now building a community archive.


“Thanks to the NEH and private supporters, we will be able to sustain this work far into the future,” said Giemza.


To learn more about the African American collections and outreach initiative and how to support it, contact Bryan Giemza (bryan@unc.edu, (919) 962-4341) or Peggy Myers, Director of Library Development (pmyers@email.unc.edu, (919) 843-5651).






About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.


Library contact: Judy Panitch, (919) 843-3619, panitch@email.unc.edu

Communications and Public Affairs contact: MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu