Durham, North Carolina — North Carolina Central University is using technology and a new grant to help preserve the school’s history.
They have been awarded one of four Getty Images Photo Archive grants for HBCU’s, which will allow them to digitize approximately 50,000 photographs. Some of their archives include never-before-seen films and photos dating back to the early 1900s. Some feature important historical moments and places – like Black Wall Street or historical figures visiting NCCU.
The rarely seen images represent 111 years of the school’s history – and make it digitally accessible to the world.
The collection includes images of the school’s most notable figures like Asa T. Spaulding, Vice Chairman of the US Civil Rights Commission in the 1950s and 60s.
There are also iconic sports figures like Sam Jones, who played basketball at NCCU and was by far one of the greatest basketball players in that region.
Seeing the school’s rich past inspires students for their future
NCCU learned about the grant in January, but now they’re starting work — just in time for Juneteenth.
Historic photos are weathered – some torn, some faded, some stained. They have regained their integrity thanks to new technologies.
Grant from Getty Images and equipment from EPSON and AdNetGlobal enable archivists to restore NC Central’s history.
“I was thrilled,” says Dr. Theodosia Shields, director of the James E. Shepard Memorial Library.
She says digitization educates the world about NCCU’s contributions and makes African American history accessible.
“It’s in a digital format and everyone has a digital device, so you have this story at your fingertips. And it’s an educational experience, not just for African Americans, but for the country and the world. to know about the many contributions we’ve made,” she says.
Alejandro Ibrahim, NC Central’s history major, is one of the students sifting through the pile of images.
“Like a dream come true,” he says. “I actually work on the content of the university I attend. I can see the history of where this university started and where we went.”
He says participating in the project is inspiring.
“Especially as a black man, seeing images of successful men encourages me and other people, new organizations like the African American Male Initiative, to help them achieve their goals,” says- he.
They hope this project will be long-term, now that they have the training and equipment to digitize newer work as well.