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Program Of the People: Widening the Path

2023 CCDI Recipients

The Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path program with support from the Mellon Foundation. This four-year program provides financial and technical support to individuals, institutions and organizations to create imaginative projects using the Library’s digital collections and centering one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color from any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and its territories and commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands).

The Library of Congress is pleased to announce the second cohort of CCDI Higher Education and Libraries, Archives, and Museums awardees. The recipients will work on their projects from April 2023 to April 2024.

2023 Higher Education Grant Recipients

Houston Community College System

PROJECT: “The Prisoner Experience in the South, 1866-1940”

LOCATION: Houston, Texas

The Houston Community College System, through their project, “The Prisoner’s Experience in the South, 1866-1940, will explore the connections between enslavement, convict labor and leasing, and contemporary mass incarceration. Grounded in the 2018 uncovering of Sugar Land 95, a convict labor camp and grave site in a Houston suburb, faculty and students, with support from Houston residents, will produce a website and exhibition, featuring research papers, podcasts and short films made by students in a range of courses. They will also collaboratively produce a Story Map. From the Library’s digital collections, they will remix and reuse photographs, audio recordings, and government documents, along with materials from Houston libraries and archives. This work also directly links to the College’s African American Studies course.

“I am thrilled to receive this grant award so that students and faculty at Houston Community College can gain a deeper understanding of the lives of imprisoned people in the South. This project will allow the community to engage with student work and with the wonderful resources in the Library of Congress Digital Collections.” – Dr. Theresa Jach, Project Lead


graphic of award recipient

The University of New Mexico

PROJECT: "Remember the South Broadway—Albuquerque, New Mexico's Oldest African American Community"

LOCATION: Albuquerque, New Mexico

The University of New Mexico’s (UNM) project, Remember the South Broadway—Albuquerque, New Mexico's Oldest African American Community, will produce a substantial digital zine to document and amplify Albuquerque’s earliest African American neighborhood. Dr. Natasha Howard, UNM faculty, will remix an extensive oral history collection and local and community archives (created by South Broadway residents) with a range of Library digital materials (maps, photographs and rare books) to create the digital zine, which will be used for UNM courses, K-12 classes and shared with the larger public in New Mexico. It will also serve as a replicable model for other educators throughout the U.S. and beyond interested in the power and creativity of digital zines to enliven history.

“I am happy to be an awardee of the prestigious Connecting Communities Digitial Initiative. Receiving this grant from the Library of Congress means African Americans in New Mexico can share their rich stories and lived experiences in a place where they are often unremembered. I hope this digital project will expand our understandings of Black geographies in places where Black people are a small but still significant part of the spatial imaginary.”  - Dr. Natasha Howard, Project Lead


2023 Libraries, Archives and Museums Grant Recipients

Boone County Public Library

PROJECT: “African Americans of the Kentucky Borderlands: Utilizing Library of Congress Collections”

LOCATION: Burlington, Kentucky

Boone County Public Library (BCPL), in Burlington, Kentucky, through its Borderlands Archive and History Center, will reuse the Library’s digital collections on enslavement and freedom-seeking in Kentucky to expand its African Americans of the Kentucky Borderlands database. Part of their African Americans of Boone County Initiative, library staff, including a digital intern, will identify relevant materials in the Library’s digital collections, create metadata and upload that data to a new landing page on the African Americans in Kentucky database, making this information easily available to students, educators and researchers. BCPL will also produce a virtual exhibit.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to incorporate Library of Congress digital collections through the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative. We are hopeful the project will inspire state-wide conversations regarding Kentucky’s enslavement history, identify and give voice to long-forgotten African Americans and their experiences, and encourage other Kentucky-based organizations to explore their local records to build upon what is discovered through the African Americans of the Kentucky Borderlands: Utilizing Library of Congress Collections project.” – Project Team


Guild Hall of East Hampton

PROJECT: “Guild Hall Community Artist-in-Residence, First Literature Project”

LOCATION: East Hampton, New York

Guild Hall, based in East Hampton, New York, received funding from the Library of Congress to support its collaboration with its Community Artists-in-Residence, Wunetu Wequai Tarrant and Christian Scheider, and the nonprofit organization, The Padoquohan Medicine Lodge, to support the efforts of the First Literature Project, and the formation of Ayím Kutoowonk (She Speaks), a collective of four Indigenous Shinnecock women working toward the reclamation and revitalization of the Shinnecock language. The project proposes to support the language reclamation efforts through the preservation of Indigenous stories, culture, and language by utilizing immersive 3D, virtual reality, and holographic technology to create two immersive orations to be exhibited at Guild Hall in spring 2024. Funding from the Library of Congress will directly support the formation and work of Ayím Kutoowonk (She Speaks). Facilitated by Tarrant, Ayím Kutoowonk, will conduct Shinnecock language research utilizing historical texts, including the Library’s collection of digitized books from the 17th through the 20th centuries, and create a centralized online database. The online database will include interviews and stories shared by Shinnecock Tribal members, a compilation of materials utilized to help with Shinnecock language research and education, and a community-generated video archive for the Padoquohan Medicine Lodge.


Historical Society of Pennsylvania

PROJECT: “Resurrecting Voices: The Philadelphia Black Experience”

LOCATION: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania will venture into a new digital platform, the podcast, by planning and piloting an oral history podcast, Resurrecting Voices: The Philadelphia Black Experience that will explore Black history in Philadelphia in the 19th and 20th centuries. In its pilot, the podcast will air five episodes in the fall 2023 and into spring 2024.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) will inaugurate its new podcast platform with Resurrecting Voices: The Philadelphia Black Experience. For HSP, podcasting is a digital oral history platform that extends their long oral history work. HSP will combine new interviews of Philadelphians and its centuries-old collections in African American History with the Library’s digital exhibitions, photographs, Sanborn maps and Chronicling America newspaper database to produce five content-rich podcasts.

“The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is thrilled to venture into podcasting. With this grant from the Library of Congress, we hope to connect with a community-based audience by sharing stories centered on Black Philadelphia.  We look forward to hosting experts who are at the forefront of this work.

The Reconstructing Voices podcast will also serve as an entry point for family history researchers seeking to learn more about their ancestors’ experience in 19th and 20th century Philadelphia. HSP is uniquely situated to provide both macro and micro lenses on the families and individuals that made up Philadelphia of the past. Understanding these individual contributions is key to understanding our history as a whole.” – Project Team