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IU libraries create first-of-its-kind African-American digital resource collection

An IU Libraries public digital scholarship project, the collection was a collaboration between the Scholarly Communication Department, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, the Lilly Library and the Education Library.

(Chris Meyer, IU Studios)

The “Land, Wealth, Liberation” digital resource details the experiences of African-Americans in both acquiring and losing land and communities obtained and created to achieve economic independence. 

Indiana University Research Impact & Open Scholarship Librarian Willa Liburd Tavernier, who conceived of the idea for the collection, wants the digital resource to provide people with verified scholarly and primary sources that were easily accessible and efficiently compiled.  

“It explores a lot of not only how these communities were established, but the various ways in which they were eventually destroyed,” Tavernier said. “Some by outright violence, some by government policy, some by infrastructure projects.” 

Besides the timeline within the digital resource, stories explore Black Wall Street, early settlements of African-American communities, survivors of communities that were destroyed, allyship, and other often overlooked aspects of African-American history in America.

The collection also has an Indiana spotlight, Lilly Library Public Services Librarian Ursula Romero said, which highlights the history of ownership and destruction of African-American communities in the state.

“People who live here can see like the things that happened near them in Indianapolis, in Bloomington,” Romero said.

This digital collection outlines that there is more history to the United States than George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, says DeLoice Holliday, the multicultural outreach librarian for University Libraries and head of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library. 

“We all ought to be very aware of where we live, which is the United States of America,” Holliday said. “And look at the people of the United States and read their histories and learn their histories.” 

An IU Libraries public digital scholarship project, the collection was a collaboration between the Scholarly Communication Department, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library, the Lilly Library and the Education Library.

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