Content, Context, and Capacity: A Collaborative Large-Scale Digitization Project on the Long Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina (CCC) was a collaborative large-scale manuscripts digitization project that ran from the summer of 2011 until 2014. This project was supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The project focused on archival materials and sound recordings concerning the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina from the 1930s-1980s.
The main goals of CCC were to promote and support educational and scholarly research uses of modern manuscripts and archival resources, to provide a proof of concept for a collaborative approach to large-scale digitization, to develop shared standards and practices, and to test the inter-institutional workflows for use by the four institutions and other potential partners in future digitization projects.
Outcomes & Project History
Together, the four institutions digitized a total of thirty-eight manuscript collections and archival record groups (creating approximately 360,000 digital objects). The digitized content is freely accessible on the open web through the four university libraries’ websites.
The TRLN university libraries were awarded a $150,000 grant in June 2011. The grant was made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division on the Department of Cultural Resources. Grant funding was renewed for two additional project years.
- Jacqueline Dean, Principal Investigator (July 2013-end of project)
- Lauren Menges, Project Librarian (January 2013-end of project)
- Suzanne Huffman, Digital Production Manager (January 2013-end of project)
- Jenn Riley, Principal Investigator (June 2012-June 2013)
- Laura Clark Brown, Principal Investigator (July 2011-May 2012)
- Joyce Chapman, Project Librarian (August 2011-November 2012)
- Samantha Leonard, Digital Production Manager (August 2011-November 2012)
The Quantitative Data Analysis Summary details number of folders, scans, and average pages per folder as well as the digitization costs over three years.
The thematic focus of the CCC project is “the Long Civil Rights Movement (LCRM) in North Carolina.” Collections were chosen for inclusion in the project based on the strength of materials related to this thematic focus. The concept of the LCRM seeks to broaden and deepen the traditional understanding of the civil rights movement as a 1960s-era American phenomenon; it stretches the movement’s timeline to include its origins and its aftermath (1930-1980s), and connects it with contemporary controversies such as school resegregation, environmental and economic justice, with related efforts for social justice such as the women’s and gay rights movements.
What is the Long Civil Rights Movement?
The term “Long Civil Rights Movement” (LCRM) was coined by historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall in a groundbreaking 2005 article, in which she recast the narrative of the civil rights movement—commonly acknowledged as the period between the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965—and extended the classical chronology of the period at both ends. The new narrative also broadened and deepened the classical storyline—a linear progression that led to the end of racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, and to the end of racial discrimination at the ballot box—to include the struggles against economic, social, and environmental injustice that continue even today. In the LCRM, the cast of well-known heroes and villains swells and no longer excludes the grassroots players, such as the labor unions and community organizers, or the LCRM’s opponents in the emerging New Right.
Importance to North Carolina Heritage
The Long Civil Rights Movement (LCRM) is at the heart of North Carolina’s history in the twentieth century, and its study informs (and will continue to inform) the ways in which North Carolinians understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities facing the state and its people. North Carolina’s LCRM found its roots in both rural and urban communities across the state, and in organizations and institutions, particularly the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Its cast was drawn from the Piedmont’s tobacco and textile labor unions, from African American business owners and civic leaders of Durham, African American churches, and from the state’s universities’ presidents, chancellors, faculty, students, black student alliances and movements, and intercollegiate sports.
The labor unions fought the paternalism of the state’s leading industries. The predominantly white universities eventually yielded, if reluctantly, to legal pressures and mandates, opening their doors wider to the nonwhite populace; and subsequently fostered environments where everyone on campus―from students and faculty to housekeeping staff and food workers―could demand justice with some success. The HBCUs, the African American churches and businesses, the rural extension programs, and the community organizers sought improved social conditions, justice, and empowerment.
Progress, and even the suggestion of needed change, stirred opposition; but in North Carolina the opposition did not come in the guise of ranting, radical segregationists. Rather, the emerging New Right in North Carolina retained a veneer of civility, even as its congressmen, local politicians, businessmen, and community leaders fought mightily to retain the status quo and power in the state’s changing political and cultural landscapes.
The CCC project was the first attempt by a library consortium to conduct a collaborative manuscripts digitization project on this scale. For this reason, archival professionals may be interested in these inter-institutional practices and collaborative workflows we developed.
- Chapman, J. and Leonard, S. (2013), “Cost and benefit of quality control visual checks in large-scale digitization of archival manuscripts”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 405-418. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-01-2013-0002
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