Houston, TX— June 20, 2024 — Houston Public Library (HPL) is proud to announce that it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support its digitization project, "Analog to Digital: Preserving Houston’s Black Voices." This two-year initiative will digitize historically significant and vulnerable archived audio, video, and oral history recordings of prominent Black community members, making these resources publicly available for library and museum exhibits, researchers, community events, and online and printed publications.

Key Project Objectives:

  • Digitization and Reformatting: Preserve 1,416 audiovisual items by converting them to digital formats.
  • Increased Accessibility: Enhance public access to resource materials by making them available online at no cost.
  • Promotion of Archives: Increase awareness and usage of the archives through targeted promotions.
  • Curated Community Partnerships: Engage with community partners to curate and share the digitized archives.

The funding will support essential project components including the hiring of a contract Project Archivist. These resources enable HPL to undertake comprehensive archival processing—arranging, describing, and preserving the materials—to ensure their longevity and accessibility. "Preserving Houston’s Black Voices" specifically targets historically significant collections related to Houston’s historic ward districts, key organizations like Trinity United Methodist Church, and notable neighborhoods such as Independence Heights and Sunnyside.

Currently, these collections are only accessible in person at HPL’s African American History Research Center (AAHRC) at the Gregory School, limiting their reach and impact.

“This generous support from the IMLS allows us to not only safeguard historical recordings but also to bring these important stories to the forefront. We look forward to the positive impact this project will have on our community and the preservation of Houston’s Black history,” said Miguell Ceasar, Head of History Research Centers. “This project will help tell the rich, living history of Black Houstonians, ensuring their stories and contributions are preserved and celebrated for generations to come.”

Click here to listen to a digitized oral history example, featuring the late Rev. Bill Lawson discussing race relations in Houston during the 1960s. This recording, along with many others, is available through HPL’s Digital Archives.

About Houston Public Library
We are a dynamic organization that serves one of the largest service areas –both population and area – in the country. 2.3 million residents in the City of Houston are the primary beneficiaries of a comprehensive customer-focused service delivery strategy.

Our system consists of 44 public service units which include one Central Library, five Regional Libraries, 29 Neighborhood and Express Libraries, three History Research Centers, three TECHLinks, one Satellite location at Children’s Museum Houston, one cafécollege Houston center, and one Mobile Express.

About the African American History Research Center at the Gregory School
The African American History Research Center is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of African Americans in the Houston area and beyond.  Our goal is to link visitors from around the world to the storied history of this city.

The collections provide books, manuscripts, and photographs; the research center hosts events, exhibits, and programs that explore the lives and achievements of African Americans. The free services and events are open to the public and are designed to educate and engage visitors of all ages.