Getty Images Photo Archive Grant Supports Digitization Project at Claflin University

Jul 15, 2022
Claflin University's selection as a recipient of the inaugural Getty Images Photo Archive Grant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities will provide South Carolina's oldest HBCU with expanded opportunities to increase awareness of its proud legacy. Founded in 1869, Claflin was also the first college/university in South Carolina to admit all students regardless of ethnic origin, gender, race, or religion. Claflin, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M, and North Carolina Central University were awarded the $500,000 grant funded to support preserving and amplifying the invaluable visual history of our institutions. The Grant was funded by the Getty Family and the philanthropic organization Stand Together.
"We are enormously grateful to receive the Getty Images Photo Archive Grant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities," said Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack when notified of Claflin's selection in January 2022. "This partnership will help Claflin preserve its illustrious history in photographs documenting the University's emergence as one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. These images provide compelling visual narratives of how Claflin's dedicated and visionary administrators, distinguished faculty and staff, and high-achieving scholars made indelible contributions to Orangeburg, the state of South Carolina, and the world."
Funding from the grant will help digitize and restore roughly 50,000 archival photographs from Claflin University's library.It will also highlight decades of photography by Cecil Williams, a renowned photojournalist and Claflin alumnus (Class of 1960). Williams is also the director of historic preservation and a staff photographer at Claflin.
Cassandra Illidge, vice president of partnerships and executive director of the HBCU grants program, and Matt Flor, a photographer and digital photography expert with Adnet Global, visited Claflin this week to launch the Photo Digitization and metadata application process.They worked alongside Williams and his interns.
"We wanted to bring our expertise, equipment, software, and distribution experience to the institutions.The history and the legacy belongs to the HBCUs. This program was created to support the work all HBCUs are doing to preserve this valuable visual history. Getty Images is going through a meticulous digitization process with our very own photo archives in London. It is an honor to share some of our insights with each HBCU. We are excited to help HBCUs share theirstory,traditions, and importance to the fabric of history with the world," said Illidge.
All revenue generated from the photos licensed on impact the program: 50 percent to the grant recipients; 30 percent will fund scholarships focused on furthering the education of students at HBCUs; and the remaining 20 percent will be reinvested to fund the Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs each year.
Each school was responsible for selecting its student interns. The selection process included recommendations from university administrators, faculty, staff, and supervisors from previous internships or work-study positions. Applicants were also required to provide insight into their career paths. Interns selected at Claflin for the inaugural year of the grant are Zharia Casteal, a senior history major from Blythewood, S.C.; Tzion Lawrence, a junior mass communications major from Orangeburg, S.C.; Antonio King, a senior mass communications major from Williston, S.C.; and Otiana Thompson, a senior with a double major in history and Africana Studies, from Blythewood, S.C.
"The interns are incredibly talented and bring unique perspectives to the program since they are all from South Carolina, "Illidgesaid. "They have been energized by researching Claflin's history and applying missing information to the University's photos. They are our future leaders, and it is important for them to be fully involved with this program, from the scanning process to approving final images to go on We want the students to learn from this experience and share their knowledge and experience with others. Perhaps this project will lead them into a career path they had neverconsidered."
"I am learning about the importance of preserving history," said Thompson, Claflin's Student Government Association (SGA) president for the 2022-2023 academic year. "This project closely relates to my major, and I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in history or African American studies after I graduate from Claflin. I am receiving hands-on experience that will be helpful when I conduct research for my classes or personal projects."
Lawrence's interest in history and his passion for photography inspired him to apply for an internship position.
"I am a photographer, and I chose mass communications as my major to study journalism," Lawrence said. "I heard about the internship from Mr. Williams. We are scanning photos that will become digital images. People will be able to access and store them on their phones, computers, or other electronic devices. This internship is an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about Claflin's rich history and the process of preserving these historic images. We can see Claflin's technological and architectural advancements through these photographs."
"We could not have achieved this impactful initiative without our partnerships," Illidge said. "EpsonUSAhas donated professional-grade scanners and software to each grant recipient. Adnet Global, our trusted production partner for more than 20 years, is restoring and applying valuable metadata to the HBCU's photo library. In addition to preserving the archival history of HBCUs, it is also vital to add contemporary content. Earlier this year, Getty Image's partner, Canon USA, donated gently used camera gear to Claflin to support events today. We welcome other brands to partner with Getty Images on this important program. We are just getting started and hope to work with all HBCUs, fraternities, and sororities, thereby fully expanding the visual narrative of black culture and history."

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