Library Awarded $312K Grant

News Date
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Dean Janice Franklin (photo credit: David Campbell/ASU).

ASU Awarded $312,000 Grant to Safeguard Historical Items in Library Archives 

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

ASU’s Levi Watkins Learning Center (LWLC) has been awarded a $312,177 grant to ensure the continued conservation of the library’s extensive archive of historical ephemera and materials that are part of its Alabama State Teachers Association (ASTA) and Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) collection. ASU’s LWLC was the only entity in the state to receive funding in this round of awards by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

The grant project is titled “Enhancing Access to Alabama's Black Political and Educational History.” The NEH funds are earmarked to preserve the ASTA/ADC collection of nearly 200 boxes of historic memorabilia that was donated to the archives recently by Dr. Joe L. Reed (class of 1962), explained Dr. Janice Franklin, dean of the LWLC.  

"The award will support the purchase of archival supplies, fund graduate student interns, and underwrite the collection’s conservation needs," Franklin said. "In this effort, the library is collaborating with the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) that is located in Philadelphia, Pa. Its staff has helped plan and craft the proposal and will help physically stabilize the material." 

She shared that the partnership was born through the University's membership in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance, an organization that Franklin helped to conceptualize and establish.  


One of the more recent additions to the LWLC's staff, university archivist Raegan C. Stearns, wrote the grant proposal and will serve as the principal investigator of the multi-year project.  

"This grant is important to the University because it will allow our department to preserve the legacy of Blacks in education and in Alabama politics for future generations to research and learn," Stearns stated. “The archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, having been founded in 1973, and what better way to ring in our golden anniversary than by caring for the material that has been entrusted to us.”  


Stearns shared that the Alabama State Teachers Association papers capture the historic work of the organization that represented the collective interest of African-American educators from 1882 to 1969. The separate papers from the Alabama Democratic Conference are also noteworthy in that they comprise political materials from almost every county and most cities in Alabama.  

"The ADC papers capture the nuts and bolts of African-American political organizing, chronicling how Black people throughout the state exerted influence over local, statewide and national elections," said Stearns. “The papers of the ADC and the ASTA are of great historical importance because they chronicle the story of African-Americans in Alabama politics and in Black education institutions during a time in which our community struggled for their basic civil rights."   

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.