Preservation and Access: Preservation Assistance Grants

Period of Performance

2/1/2017 - 7/31/2018

Funding Totals

$5,973.00 (approved)
$5,973.00 (awarded)

Withers Collection Archive Preservation Project

FAIN: PG-252859-17

Withers Collection, Inc. (Memphis, TN 38103-3135)
Carol A McCarley (Project Director: May 2016 to present)

The purchase of environmental monitoring equipment and rehousing supplies, as well as online training for museum staff, for the collection of photographs, negatives, letters, and records of photojournalist Ernest C. Withers (1922-2007). In the 1950s, Withers helped spur the movement for civil rights with a self-published photo pamphlet on the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Over the next two decades, Withers formed close personal relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, James Meredith, Ralph David Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young and other prominent leaders of the early civil rights movement. Perhaps the best-known of Withers’s photographs from the civil rights period were those of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. He also photographed baseball players Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Willie Mays, as well as W.C. Handy, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Bill Clinton. Supplies would be used to rehouse the oldest negatives, prioritized for their historical importance.

The Withers Collection, Inc. /dba/ The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery of Memphis, TN seeks NEH grant funding in support of efforts to archive and preserve the million plus items that comprise the Withers Collection. The Withers Collection is the works of Dr. Ernest C. Withers collected over a 60 year span as a photographer and photojournalist. The historic collection of black and white and also color images reflect the African American community in the Deep South from the 40’s to 2007, and has a visual representation of Civil Rights, Sports, Music, Politics and Life Style. The goal of the Withers Collection, Inc. in seeking NEH funding is to purchase environmental monitoring equipment (dataloggers and e-climate notebook), housing materials (sleeves, boxes, dividers) for negatives of all sizes and select 8x10 prints. The rehousing of our oldest materials is the next phase in our long term preservation efforts.