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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Rice Library Digital Collection began with African American collection

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An image from USI's Dr. Charles E. Rochelle Collection.
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Wendy Knipe Bredhold
Media Relations Specialist, News & Information Services
812/461-5259
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The University of Southern Indiana's Rice Library Digital Collection is a searchable database containing over 20,000 images. It features the Rice Library Image Collection of Evansville and the surrounding area including New Harmony, Tell City, and Poseyville, Indiana, from the late 1880s to the 1980s. Natural disasters, sporting events, and celebrities and politicians that visited the area are included.

Library staff began to digitize the University's photographic collections in 2008. One of the first collections processed was the African American collection, made up of three smaller collections: those of Charlotte Moody, Alfred Porter, and Dr. Charles E. Rochelle.

Moody's father owned a successful men's hair salon in downtown Evansville in the early 1920s. Her collection includes other prominent members of the African American community from the same period.

Porter was a teacher at Douglass and later Lincoln High School, and an active member of his community and church. His collection features photographs of Lincoln and the Alexander African Methodist Episcopal Church from the 1950s. One of the wonderful things about his collection is the variety of images from Lincoln High School and the large number of identified people. For instance, there is an image of the basketball team and most of the player's names are recorded on the back. Those names can be searched in USI's online gallery.

Rochelle was the principal of Lincoln High School and the first African American to receive a doctorate in education at the University of California. His collection includes photographs of his family and friends as well as photographs of students at Lincoln. Rochelle gave several speeches and presentations to educational groups across the country. USI's archive contains many of his speeches dealing with the importance of education in inner cities.

Perhaps the jewel of the African American collection is The Evansville Argus, a newspaper for Evansville's African American community published between 1938 and 1943. The paper carried local news but also national and international news. USI's Archives and Special Collections have the complete run of the paper in print. In 2010, the library received a Library Technology Services Act grant to have the newspaper digitized at a high-quality resolution with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) applied to make the text keyword searchable.

Another large collection is the Communal Studies Image Collection. It holds over 10,000 images of communes across North America. Modern and historical communities are represented.

Coming soon will be the University Archives Collection which will include photographs, documents, and yearbooks from USI's history. Archive staff are currently in the process of digitizing all the Transitions yearbooks. Next, they will make The Shield available online. Both of these collections will be keyword searchable.

For more information, contact Jennifer Greene, reference/archives librarian, at 812/464-1832.



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