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The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > Save Our African American Treasure

September 14, 2010 -- The Library of Congress participated in Save Our African American Treasures (external link), which was held in Topeka, Kan., during August 14-15.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture (external link) sponsored the public event to offer advice about preserving personal collections.

Save Our African American Treasures

Save Our African American Treasures. Credit: Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Institution.

The Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution, conducts programs across the nation to promote preservation, help people identify significant objects and encourage collaboration among cultural institutions.

The Kansas event took place at Washburn University, not far from the Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site (external link), a national monument and education center honoring the work of ordinary people whose actions and courage contributed to powerful changes in civil rights and the American education system. The legacy of Brown v. Board hovers over Topeka and it seemed an appropriate place to host the event, with its focus on ordinary people whose actions contribute to preservation of American cultural history.

Earnest visitors journeyed to Save Our African American Treasures with their precious family heirlooms for the opportunity to consult with professional reviewers and have their personal collections appraised, not for their dollar value but for their authenticity and cultural value. The reviewers also advised collectors on how best to pack and store their objects, which included dolls, carvings, photos, papers and textiles.

Mike Ashenfelder, from the Library's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, provided advice about preserving personal digital information.  His session, titled "Saving Your Digital Memories," drew an eager and curious audience comprised of both information professionals and the general public. Ashenfelder referred to information available through NDIIPP's personal digital archiving section of the website. He also answered questions about digital file formats, hardware recommendations, how to digitize photos and videos and what other cultural institutions are doing about digital preservation.

Save Our African American Treasures is an ongoing program, presented in different US cities throughout the year.