Grants and Acquisitions

Ed. note: Send your grants and acquisitions to Ann-Christe Galloway, production editor, C&RL News, at email: agalloway@ala.org.

The University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill’s University Libraries has received a grant of $500,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to investigate new methods for preserving audio and video records of the American South. The grant, which focuses on sustainability, began October 1, 2021, and will end September 30, 2023. It brings the nine-year funding total for Extending the Reach of Southern Audiovisual Sources to $3.4 million. Prior phases were devoted to research and development, implementation, and expansion. UNC’s libraries have been working on audiovisual preservation since the 1980s, but those efforts tended to focus on individual items. The series of Mellon Foundation grants have allowed staff to consider how best to tackle collections that include thousands—or tens of thousands—of recordings, such as the holdings of the Southern Folklife Collection and the Southern Historical Collection, both part of the Wilson Special Collections Library.


Ambrotype photograph of Omar ibn Said, from the Ambrotype Collection in the North Carolina Collection’s Photographic Archives.

Ambrotype photograph of Omar ibn Said, from the Ambrotype Collection in the North Carolina Collection’s Photographic Archives.

The University Libraries at the University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill has acquired a document regarding the life of Omar ibn Said, a 19th-century enslaved Islamic scholar. Said, kidnapped from West Africa and enslaved in North Carolina, was renowned for his Arabic writings. The manuscript, created in 1856, is a document addressed by Said to his enslaver, James Owen. It contains an Islamic blessing and two biblical texts: the Psalm 51 and The Lord’s Prayer. Eighteen examples of similar documents written by Said are currently known. According to John Blythe, assistant curator of the North Carolina Collection, the item is the first to come to light in many years. The library has digitized the manuscript, now part of the North Carolina Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library, and shared it online. The document includes notations by other people who have handled it. According to Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of religious studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, one of them appears to be General George McClellan, who later became famous as a Union general during the Civil War. McClellan may have been given the document at a hot springs resort that the Owen family visited.

Copyright Ann-Christe Galloway

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