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Grant number like: PY-258570-18

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Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565)
Clay Motley (Project Director: May 2017 to March 2021)

Common Heritage
Preservation and Access

[Grant products]

$8,760 (approved)
$7,141 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2019

Beyond the Blues: Discovering and Preserving Clarksdale Mississippi's History

A week-long community digitization event and a public program to document the history of Clarksdale, Mississippi, known as the “birthplace of the blues.”  Through the digitization of photographs, legal documents, family recipes, maps, personal letters, business records, visual art, and audiovisual materials, the project would preserve Clarksdale’s history.  The proposed events aim to increase awareness especially of the “non-blues” history of this Mississippi Delta city, including the Civil Rights Movement, regional foodways, the Mississippi River and environment, religious practices, agricultural heritage, literary achievements, and Chinese, Lebanese, Jewish, and Italian immigration to the region.  The project involves collaboration with Clarksdale Carnegie Public Library, whose staff would run the digitization event, and Coahoma County Higher Education Center, where a community event highlighting notable items and describing their historical and cultural context would be held.  After the project, the library would make digitized materials available via a Common Heritage website.

Clarksdale, Mississippi, is one of the most culturally significant cities in the Mississippi Delta and is internationally famous as the "birthplace of the blues." However, important non-blues aspects of its history are often overlooked. The significance of its people and events as well as the ways in which normal citizens have contributed to the Delta's rich culture have not been documented. This project will be the first systematic opportunity for the citizens of Clarksdale to contribute to preserving their city's history through the digitizing and archiving of historical materials.