Lonely Planet Writer

National Museum of African American History is helping digitize family photographs

An innovative programme by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington is digitising family memories to celebrate African American history at community level, and tell the full American story through a new online platform. Called the Community Curation Program (CCP), it combines the rich history of storytelling that African American families have with modern technology to preserve and share the past.

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image: Alan Kercher

Earlier this month, the museum went out to the Impact Hub in Baltimore with scanners, film readers and other equipment to allow participating families to convert their old pictures and home movies into digital records. This was a free service and it is also available at the museum, supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Explore Your Family History Center. It is believed that there is a lot of valuable material out there currently preserved on obsolete formats. The goal of the CCP is to bridge the generational divide in African American communities by bringing access to online services that support the digitisation, preservation and sharing of these stories.

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The museum says that these items offer a glance into black culture of the time that was often was left out of movies, TV and other media. The personal stories help give current and future generations an understanding of the individuals involved and their history. The CCP will also include contributions by civic organisations, community groups, religious organisations, and other nonprofit organisations. From these digital community efforts, African Americans of all ages will be able to join together to preserve the traditions of family and community organisations for current and future generations of Americans.

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington. Image: Alan Kercher

For further information on the Community Curation Program, see here.