Donaldsonville’s River Road African American Museum Receives LSU Libraries Award

LSU Libraries is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history and diverse culture of Louisiana communities. In this spirit, the libraries this summer presented the Y’ALL 2022 prize to the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville.

The Y’ALL award was created in 2019 and stands for “You Are Louisiana’s Legacy”. Its goal is to share digitization equipment and expertise with small, community-oriented libraries, archives, and museums in Louisiana.

“RRAAM was selected for the award because of its strong ties to its community, the richness of its collections, and the significant addition its material makes to Louisiana’s digital library,” said Sophie Ziegler, program manager. and LSU Libraries Digital Services.

Now in its 28th year, museum founder Kathe Hambrick says, “The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of African Americans in rural communities in southern Louisiana. They work closely with the community in and around Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

Many cultural heritage institutions, such as RRAAM, house important historical documents but lack the technical resources and staff to digitize their collections. This award provides the technical resources and staff time that allow them to digitize their holdings and host the resulting digital collections online through the Louisiana Digital Library.

LSU Libraries digitized a wide variety of materials of great local and regional significance to the RRAAM, including:

  • Notebooks of a midwife working with black and white families in and around Donaldsonville between 1914 and 1921
  • Waterloo Plantation Bursary and Payroll Records from the 1930s and 1940s
  • Transcripts of the Parish of Ascension censuses of 1870 and 1890
  • Records and ephemera of several local charities
  • A 1964 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) report on their activities in Louisiana
  • A bill of sale of a slave from 1850
  • Archives of Butler Farm from the 1930s to the 1950s
  • Butler’s Funeral Home Records from the 1950s

“The LSU Library Y’ALL Award is, in many ways, a race against time. Here in Louisiana, many of our cultural heritage institutions are one storm away from devastation. Digitization is a way to protect our history and culture for future generations, as well as making it more accessible for the current generation. The River Road African American Museum is exactly the type of institution we hope to work with; its roots in the community run deep and its collection fills gaps in the state’s existing digitized cultural heritage,” Ziegler said.

In addition to RRAAMs receiving copies of the digital files for use at their institution, these collections will be added to the LDL, where they will be made available to the public free of charge.

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