Naacp Begins Project To Make Archives Accessible On Internet

Two Baby Bell Companies Give $125,000 To Effort

April 23, 1997|By James Bock | James Bock,SUN STAFF

Wedding its 88-year history with computer technology, the NAACP embarked yesterday on a project to make its archives accessible via the Internet.

Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the organization would "put thousands of important civil rights and black historical documents in a computerized format that will be available, once and for all, with just a click of your mouse."

The archives at NAACP headquarters in Northwest Baltimore include a collection of The Crisis, the NAACP magazine founded in 1910 by W. E. B. DuBois; minutes of NAACP board meetings, and correspondence from NAACP leaders such as Roy Wilkins and Benjamin L. Hooks. Part of the archives, including the papers of Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, is housed at the Library of Congress.

The project is being financed with a $100,000 grant from Bell Atlantic. The Philadelphia-based telecommunications company also paid for development of the NAACP's World Wide Web site (www.naacp.org) last summer.

Another Baby Bell, SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, contributed $25,000. Mfume said the NAACP would seek more funding for the project, which he said would "carry on for some time."

Kestrel Associates Inc., a black-owned computer firm from Falls Church, Va., will scan and digitize documents and photographs from the NAACP's Henry Lee Moon Library and Civil Rights Archives. Texts will be posted on the NAACP's Web page so that they can be searched, using keywords, by the public.

"We hope to fill in and provide details that may not be part of history books," Mfume said. He urged private owners of documents on black history to make them available to the NAACP.

On display at a news conference yesterday was a 1963 memo written by Gloster B. Current, NAACP director of branches, after the church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four little girls.

The bombing "makes all the more imperative a stepped-up campaign in Congress" to pass President John F. Kennedy's civil rights initiatives, the memo said. It outlined steps NAACP branches could take, including soliciting religious groups' support.

On the library's shelves was a 1919 NAACP pamphlet on lynching in the United States. It reported that 3,254 people -- 2,552 blacks and 702 whites -- were lynched from 1889 to 1918. Georgia (386) and Mississippi (373) were the states with the most lynchings. Maryland had 17 -- 15 blacks and two whites.

The NAACP also holds the papers of writer Dorothy Parker, whose short stories appeared in The New Yorker for more than three decades. Parker, who died in 1967, left her estate to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or, at his death, to the NAACP. Her ashes are buried in a memorial garden at NAACP headquarters.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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