Troy University receives federal grant for Wiregrass archiving project

Posted: Monday, 11 January 2016

DOTHAN - Troy University is giving Wiregrass residents a chance to digitally preserve their family histories thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Wiregrass Common Heritage Project will allow community members to scan photographs, letters, diaries and other items, preserving them for future generations and even sharing them through an online database.

The project is entirely funded by a $12,000 NEH Common Heritage grant to the University’s Wiregrass Archives at the Dothan Campus.

"This will allow us to unveil these hidden gems of personal histories that add to our overall understanding of the culture of the Wiregrass," said Dr. Marty Olliff, director of the Wiregrass Archives.

The project centers on two free-to-the-public Community Scanning Days, which will take place in the summer and feature multiple scanning stations manned by trained digitization teams.

At the scanning days, Wiregrass residents can bring family photographs and documents they wish to digitally preserve for future generations.

Teams will scan the materials and also collect relevant indexing information.

The project will also reach out to the Wiregrass for help.

"We will recruit people who have been living in the area for a long time to provide historical commentary and context on the items as the teams digitize them," Olliff said.

Each resident who submits items to be scanned will receive grant-funded CD or jump drive copies of the materials in addition to the originals.

Those who are willing can donate digital copies to the Wiregrass Archives, which will share them through an online database.

"Wiregrass Archives will treat received materials as it does all other collections, emphasizing access and long-term preservation," Olliff said. "No Wiregrass Common Heritage Project participant is obligated to do this, but what we hope is that they will donate the scans to the Wiregrass Archives so that we can locate solid family collections that illustrate the history of the area, that make a deep connection between the Wiregrass Archives and individual families and members of the community."

In addition to the scanning days, the grant will fund:

  • An African-American Genealogical Workshop with Frazine Taylor, chair of Alabama’s Black Heritage Council;

  • A Preserving Family Archives Workshop with Dana Chandler, Tuskegee University's director of archives;
  • And a community-wide wrap-up presentation.

Olliff expects the project to conclude by October. Dates for the other events and scanning days have yet to be determined and will be announced by the University soon.

The Wiregrass Common Heritage Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.