Treasure Trove of Baltimore’s African-American History Now Online

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It took three years and nearly half a million dollars, but the ambitious archival project to document Baltimore’s historic and groundbreaking Afro-American newspaper is now online. The project, funded by the Mellon Foundation and conducted via Johns Hopkins, was no little effort. Over its 120 years covering local, state, and national news, the Afro-American compiled more than a million photographs, and over a hundred thousand boxes and files filled with clippings, images, and correspondence.

To sort it all out, the project enlisted the help of students, researchers, and interns from Johns Hopkins, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland. They got to dig through the paper’s numerous primary source documents, some of them dating from the Afro‘s 1892 founding. (The paper is the oldest family-owned African American newspaper in the country.)

The project was a good example of Johns Hopkins putting its best foot forward — the university used its size and clout to spearhead a project that mattered to its neighborhood (the Afro is currently housed in Charles Village), its city, and the wider world. Plus, in collaborating with numerous other institutions, it proved that it can be a team player.

The work isn’t yet done; the next step will involve creating online exhibits on some of the archive’s most compelling material. But there’s plenty to check out now; visit the newly-launched website here.



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