Howard University Awarded $2 Million Grant To Digitize Black Newspaper Archives


February 25, 2022

They want to make the archive more accessible to the masses!

Howard University was just awarded a $2 million grant to digitize a collection of Black newspaper archives, ABC News reports.

The Black Press Archives date back to the 1970s, housed at Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and containing more than 2,000 newspaper collections from across the U.S., countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Among the archives are popular U.S. newspapers like the Chicago Defender and New York Amsterdam News alongside publications printed in various languages including French, Xhosa and Kiswahili. Now, Howard University has received a $2 million donation to help digitize and preserve the collection, with the aim of making the archives more widely available to the public and researchers. 


“Once digitized, Howard’s Black Press Archive will be the largest, most diverse, and the world’s most accessible Black newspaper database,” said Benjamin Talton, director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. 

To date, most of the collection has never been accessible to the public, with only some of the materials microfilmed and most of the physical copies worn and fragile. Pulitzer winner Nikole Hannah-Jones helped found The Center for Journalism & Democracy at Howard, which was instrumental in securing the grant from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, an organization that supports social justice in journalism and the arts. 

The New York Times journalist says the Center is critical for increasing diversity in the sector and the Black Press Archives will help forward that mission, ensuring we have access to a more accurate account of the past. 


“We will be able to go back and look at these archives and these newspapers and the way the Black press was covering the world and have a greater understanding of who we are as a society, who we were back then and who we are now. Right now, we really are only getting a very narrow part of the story, and that is the part of the story told through power and through the ruling class,” said Hannah-Jones.

The grant is just another example of a newfound resurgence to preserve little known Black history. Getty Images recently announced their inaugural recipients for the Photo Archive Grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The grant is a part of their commitment to anti-racism by archiving never before seen historical content and providing revenue streams for the institutions. 

No word yet on when the digital Black Press Archives will be released but we can’t wait!


Newspaper founder Robert S. Abbott at Chicago Defender printing press. Photo Courtesy of Gordon Coster/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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