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‘Deeply Rooted’ African American experiences project awarded grant

Historic group photo of Black men and women
January 02, 2024
Linda Blaser

The Archivist of the United States awarded the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff funding to continue preservation of the history of the Black population of Lake Forest, Illinois, with Associate Professor of History and African American Studies Courtney Joseph and Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies RL Watson serving as faculty consultants.

The nearly $105,000 grant will support planning of the collaborative digital edition, Deeply Rooted and Rising High: African American Experiences in Lake Forest, from 1860 to present day. The edition gathers together an extensive collection of historical materials and will provide access to primary sources, including personal interviews, images, interactive maps, and digitized material culture. 

The project team is composed of Lake Forest College faculty and students, graduate students from Loyola University’s Public History Department, community advisors, and the curatorial staff at the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff. 

“I am so proud of being part of the team that won this grant,” Joseph said. “The work of historical recovery is central to my pedagogy and scholarship, this grant allows us to continue exploring the experience of Black folks in Lake Forest, especially at the College.”

The National Archives grant “represents a wonderful opportunity to continue to heal our shared archives, which have suffered from neglect and erasure of Black presence and experiences.”

Watson said the National Archives grant “represents a wonderful opportunity to continue to heal our shared archives, which have suffered from neglect and erasure of Black presence and experiences.”  

Watson is also co-curator and co-editor of Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North at the American Folk Art Museum, which is likewise concerned with recovering and healing the Black American shared archive. 

The  National Archives grants program is carried out with the advice and recommendations of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). NHPRC supports projects that promote access to America’s historical records to encourage understanding of US democracy, history, and culture. 

Through a three-year program funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Planning Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies will go to 11 projects for a total of $1,273,022. New projects plan to document:

  • Black Joy and Resilience in Philadelphia
  • Black Artists of Oklahoma
  • Student Activism at the University of Texas
  • South Asian American Entrepreneurship and Community Building
  • African American Experiences in Lake Forest, Illinois
  • Colonial Zapotec Indigenous Texts
  • Native American Boarding Schools in Oklahoma and Utah
  • Early Black Women Intellectuals
  • Literary Voyager or Ojibwe Muzzeniegun, 19th-century Indigenous literary culture
  • Revue des Colonies (1834-1842), a global antislavery periodical
  • Asian American Histories in Ohio

The 15-member NHPRC includes representatives from all three branches of the Federal government as well as the leading archival and historical professional associations. Since it was established in 1934 along with the National Archives, the NHPRC has awarded 5,200 grants for preserving, publishing, and providing access to the nation’s historical documents.

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