The Great Migration is a unique digitization service program that partners the National Museum of African American History and Culture with individuals and organizations across the United States to preserve their important analog audiovisual media.
This initiative will invite members of the public to schedule an appointment with the museum's audiovisual conservation team, and have their media digitized in the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center on the second floor of the museum. Media conservators will facilitate free digitization of motion picture film (16mm, Super 8, and Regular 8mm), obsolete videotape formats (Hi-8/8mm, MiniDV, 3/4" U-matic, VHS, Betacam, 1" open reel video, and 1/2" open reel video) and various audio formats. Preservation and access are at the heart of this initiative, which has been made possible largely due to a $20 million gift from philanthropist and businessman Robert F. Smith. This donation has been earmarked to support digitization of both the public's family history and the museum's vast collections, as well as education and access to said material.
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In addition to the Great Migration, the National Museum of African American History & Culture has collected and preserved a number of African American home movies; from both known and unknown families. While major motion picture film and television historically lacked diverse representation, black history was instinctively being preserved in everyday home movies. Today, these personal narratives serve as an invaluable tool for understanding and re-framing black moving image history, and provide a much needed visualization of African American history and culture. Just as the museum explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture; these films are a moving image record of these values in practice. In our home movie collections, we see the resiliency of civil rights activists in 1963 in Danville, VA, the optimism and drive of empowered youth in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community of Brooklyn, New York during the 1960's, and the rooted spirituality of black Oklahomans in the face of race riots and segregation in 1920's Tulsa, Oklahoma. Explore some of our collections at NMAAHC Collections Search.
The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present...Isabel Wilkerson The Warmth of Other Suns