The past year has shed light on the inequities that exist in America and the need to address these through not only policy changes, but through educational and cultural experiences that deepen our collective consciousness. Given our mission to expand access to knowledge and education for everyone, we are seeking out opportunities to promote learning and dialogue by bringing previously unheard voices into college and high school classrooms, into our libraries, and into public discourse. We are excited to be engaged in this work with others, and are thrilled today to announce that we have received a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help us raise the voices of a population that is largely invisible in America and disproportionately people of color: incarcerated individuals.
With The Mellon Foundation’s support, we will accelerate and increase the impact of a project we have been developing for some time called American Prison Newspapers: 1800-2020.
Our Reveal Digital team, as part of its Diversity & Dissent Fund, has been working on an ambitious project to select and fund the digitization of hundreds of prison newspapers, with the ultimate aim of making them open access. Reveal Digital has secured funding from sixty-one libraries to date to support this work. With the Mellon Foundation funds, we are now able to increase the number of newspapers we can digitize, make the content free and open to the public on our JSTOR platform, and invest in important additional, but often overlooked and underfunded areas – the long-term preservation of the material and optimizing its use.
We are already working with ten state, academic, and public libraries to source and digitize the newspapers. When complete, the resulting collection of 250,000 pages from a wide range of newspapers will be preserved by our Portico team, which manages the long-term preservation of digital content at scale, including significant historical newspaper collections.