Google has teamed up with The Obsidian Collection to digitize the archives of black newspapers.
The Obsidian Collection serves as an archive of several black newspapers, including The Chicago Defender and the Baltimore Afro American. The Collection now has a new, lofty goal: to digitize every article and photograph in its collection.
The Collection has materials on microfilm that cover several significant historical events, including the Great Migration, the Jim Crow Era and the Civil Rights Movement. With the help of Google Arts and Culture, the archives will be available online for free, reports Chicago Magazine.
Angela Ford is spearheading the project and believes the collaboration will give much needed insight into black middle-class life during the 1900s.
“More than just digitizing it for researchers, I’m passionate about the next generation seeing how awesome we are and in changing the narrative permeating the American conversation right now about African Americans,” said Ford.
Ford is also excited about the accessibility of the images and articles.
“What happens is a lot of these archive collections speak in an echo chamber of libraries and archives where it just doesn’t get out to the laypeople,” said Ford. “What I love about Google Arts and Culture is you could be standing in line at the grocery store and viewing our archives. We’ll keep rotating them in and out and keep pushing them through social media. We want everyone to see us.”
The first uploads, which includes footage from a Joe Louis fight and pieces on Chicago’s first black mayor, are online and ready for viewing.
“Google’s arts and culture strategy is that everybody in the world can access everybody in the world and that will create a new world,” says Ford. “We want to make sure we are part of that conversation.”