HAMPTON, Va. (September 16, 2020) – The Hampton University Museum and Archives has been awarded a $249,898 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to conserve and digitize twelve Letter Books that belonged to the founder of Hampton University, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. The grant is part of IMLS’ Save America’s Treasures program, which is designed to support the preservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections.
“Our founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, was an outstanding man of vision and leadership and it is because of the foundation laid by him that Hampton University has become the world renowned institution that it is today,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “This grant will preserve the rich heritage of the books, which contain handwritten correspondence from our illustrious founder.”
The Letter Books, which provide insight into educational experiences of African Americans and Native Americans during Reconstruction and include Chapman’s handwritten and typed correspondence regarding the establishment of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (University), will be carefully packed and sent to be removed from their binders, cleaned, restored and rehoused in custom clamshell housing.
The University Archives will receive digital files to be used by patrons, scholars and students. Additionally, the grant will allow the University Archives to hire a consultant to assist the Director of the Museum and staff in updating a strategic plan for digitization of the Archives collection. The Hampton University Museum plans to utilize the grant for Museum and Archives workshops, open to staff, students, professors and patrons.
“We are so appreciative that ‘Save America’s Treasures’ recognized the importance of General Samuel Chapman Armstrong’s Letter Books and their significance to African American and American Indian education. These records are truly America’s treasures and should be conserved and digitized for generations to study,” said Dr. Vanessa Thaxton-Ward, Director of the Hampton University Museum and Archives.