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Institute of Museum and Library Services Awards B-CU Archives $130K Grant

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The Bethune-Cookman University Archives contains a wide variety of materials in various formats that depict the lives and works of individuals who contributed to the institution. Archives include a collection of documents, which include numerous programs and a wealth of photographs that date back to the time of founder Mary McLeod Bethune. The Institute of Museum and Library Services grant will expand B-CU Archives capacity and support academic research overall.

Bethune-Cookman University Archives has received a $130K grant from the Institute of Museum and Library services. The grant will improve the quality of services provided by B-CU Archives and expand its capacity. Namely, funds will establish a history internship project for two student interns to process collections and a full-time staff archivist.

With Mary McLeod Bethune-National Historic Landmark Foundation Curator/B-CU Archivist Dr. Ashley Robertson Preston serving as the lead, the new archivist will work full-time with a team of two interns from the Public History Department. This will be a partnership between the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation-National Historic Landmark and the Bethune-Cookman University Archives under the leadership of the B-CU Swisher Library.

According to Dr. Robertson Preston, the program meets many needs:

“The hiring of an archivist allows the archives to become more accessible to researchers. It also stabilizes the archives preservation efforts through the training of staff in areas of conservation and provides greater opportunities for minorities in the field,” she said. “Furthermore, the project will support academic research by providing newly-processed resources for faculty presentations at various conferences such as the Society of American Archivists, Association of African American Museums, Association of American Museums, and the National Council of Public History.”

Moreover, faculty will be encouraged to publish and conduct research utilizing archival materials. With newly-added staff and consulting from current faculty members - including Dr. Anthony Dixon, assistant professor of history and Dr. Tasha Lucas Youmans, dean/library and chief librarian- collections will be made available by creating a processing schedule and assigning specific tasks to volunteers and interns. 

Located on the second floor of the Swisher Library, B-CU Archives is open Monday through Friday during the hours of 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The public is welcome by appointment.

B-CU’s new archivist, Whitney Barrett graduated from Bethune-Cookman University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 2010 and recently graduated from Florida State University with a Master of Science degree in Information in 2017. Over the past two years Barrett served as a Curatorial Fellow in both the Archives and the Bethune Foundation. “During my time at the Foundation I have been able to help prepare the Mary McLeod Bethune Collection for research in addition to several other collections,” Barrett said. Ms. Barrett also fulfill information requests at the archives and oversees volunteers. “My experience working here has been very rewarding and as an alumni and historian, I am proud to be able to preserve and share the history of our founder and this institution, she added.

In 2015 Mary McLeod Bethune-National Historic Landmark Foundation was awarded a $135,000 grant from IMLS to create a Curatorial Fellowship.

“During the Curatorial Fellowship Project, Whitney Barrett served as the Fellow and accomplished a great deal of processing in the archives. The new project will help to continue the work that began along with providing more staff to complete more. We are proud to announce that Whitney Barrett will serve as the archivist for this project,” said Dr. Robertson Preston.

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Ursula James
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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.