Black Archives Cash in on History

The southeast’s largest source for history regarding the African Diaspora has been awarded a $149,454 renewal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The Carrie Meek-James Eaton Black Archives and Museum, in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Graduate Studies, is renewing the Inspiring Authorities in Museum Management (I AMM) program, a student training initiative.

According to the grants proposal, the I AMM program’s purpose is to inspire, recruit and train black graduates and undergraduate students for the museum profession in an effort to address the national shortage of blacks in the museum practice.

Murell Dawson, the grant’s principal investigator, said other FAMU officials helped the program become possible.

“Dean Ralph Turner and Interim Dean Verian Thomas provide tuition assistance to the I AMM fellows,” said Dawson. “Without those funds to match the grant, we wouldn’t have been able to have a successful proposal.”

41 applications were submitted to IMLS regarding black history and culture. Out of those, only 15 were chosen.

“These organizations, their exhibits, programs, collections and the people who lead them are truly inspiring,” Director of the IMLS Susan Hildreth said. “We are proud to support them.”

During the past grant period, the rigorous IAMM program accepted 11 fellows and has a clear success rate. Former I AMM fellow and FAMU alumnus Kennard Speed is now a in Teach for America, and believes working in the museum prepared him academically.

“I was pushed to reach beyond my abilities and discover how my skills can be beneficial to the dissemination of material,” said Speed.

Some of the benefits for graduate students include tuition assistance, an assistantship, academic support, mentoring, exposure to careers in museum, networking, professional development and post-graduate support.

Students also have the ability to work in marketing/public relations, archival and museum services or information technology.

Other than being a graduate student, other qualifications include the ability to participate for three consecutive semesters, work for 20 hours per week, attend one conference and other museum visits and to produce a final public project.

“Students across all disciplines can have their abilities transformed into skills for the museum profession, so all majors are encouraged to apply,” said Dawson.

Founded by James Eaton in 1976, the Black Archives has more than 100,000 guests annually from around the world, including Switzerland, Japan and Africa. The holdings have more than 500,000 archival records and some items that are more than 2,000 years old.

Interested graduate students can find out more information by calling the Black Archives at 850-599-3020. Applications for next year will be available in spring 2012.