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Released October 3, 2003


HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi will administer a $463,322 grant awarded to USM Libraries for a collaborative project that will result in the world's largest online educational resource on the African-American civil rights movement.

In a collaboration with Delta State University, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Digital Library Program will result in the digitization of at least 10,000 pages/images over two years of production.

The project, funded with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), will create research-quality digital collections of letters, diaries, photographs, state and organizational records, oral histories, and other primary sources that provide firsthand documentation of one of the most far-reaching social movements in United States history in a state that became a focal point in the struggle over America's racial dilemma.

"This more extensive collaboration among some of the state's academic institutions gives us an opportunity to form lasting partnerships that will pave the way for an expansion of access to other cultural materials as well," said Diane DeCesare Ross, digitization librarian at Southern Miss.

Currently, collections of civil rights materials in Mississippi are dispersed in archives separated by as much as 250 miles. Digital technology offers Mississippi an opportunity to bring these important resources together in a statewide digital archive to support education and research in Mississippi's K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities as well as on a global scale.

The program plans to deliver digital reproductions of original documents to classrooms, libraries, and desktops via the Internet and will create the raw material from which educators can build lesson plans and activities, college and university students can research term papers, and citizens in Mississippi and elsewhere may engage in lifelong learning in more informal settings. The finding aid component of the project will provide comprehensive intellectual control for Mississippi's civil rights collections for the first time.

"This is another example of our library staff's ingenuity," said Southern Miss Hattiesburg Provost Dr. Tim Hudson. "The digitization of these resources will ultimately enhance the ability of educators and students to access information and conduct research on an important aspect of Mississippi history."

The project builds on the success of the Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive project at Southern Miss (supported by IMLS in 2001) and the Civil Rights Era in Mississippi digital audio preservation project, a collaboration among the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Tougaloo College, and the Southern Miss Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. "These projects have already shown us that there is a large, potentially global, audience for Mississippi's civil rights materials," Ross said.

The Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive can be accessed online at



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October 8, 2003 3:37 PM