After more than a year-and-a-half of work, the Crossroads to Freedom digital archive launch event took place last night. Kath and I have assisted with the project, overseen by the Office of External Programs at Rhodes College, since 2005, and we enjoyed visiting with many of the people at the launch event that contributed their stories and primary source materials (such as letters, certificates, and awards) to the archive.
The archive features images, letters, flyers, books, and video interviews related to the civil rights struggle in Memphis and the surrounding area. It utilizes Fedora server software to store and preserve the datastreams and metadata and a custom-built front-end to provide the access and interactivity for visitors. The archive was largely built through the efforts of Rhodes students, who conducted the interviews, put together the TEI files, digitized and processed the video, scanned the images, and entered the descriptive metadata.
Crossroads to Freedom is an attempt to foster a community discussion about the history of civil rights in Memphis and throughout the Mid-South. Several prominent individuals and groups, including Judge Russell Sugarman and the Hill Foundation, contributed significant papers and historical background to help frame the discussion.
The launch event featured inspiring speakers and a wonderful buffet spread (including sugery fudge cubes – yum!), but probably more important, a major part of the program required feedback from the attendees about how to how to increase community participation in the repository. Ideas were submitted by all, and these ideas will be gradually incorporated into strengthening and building upon the Crossroads to Freedom framework.
Congratulations to everyone who worked to make the Crossroads to Freedom launch event a success!