Thank you to our inaugural Sankofa Youth Collective!
This past summer, four young people from Schenectady worked with us as part of the Sankofa Youth Collective. Elijah Powell, Mi’kala Moore, Jacob Jamison, and Silas Harvard conducted oral history interviews at SCHS and community events, digitized historic materials, and conducted research on local Black organizations and leaders. They brought enthusiasm, kindness, empathy, and a thirst for knowledge to their work, and we’re grateful for the effort they gave to the African American Historical Records Project. Thank you to the Schenectady County Connects Youth Summer Employment Program for connecting these young people to our project, to the interviewees, to the project committee members who worked with the youth, and to C.O.C.O.A. House for supporting our work with the youth.
Our Community Survey is now live!
We invite members of the Black community to participate in developing the history, legacy, and memory of the community by completing our short surveys:
Individuals and Family Survey — answer questions about your personal and familial experiences in Schenectady
Organizational Survey — answer questions based upon your knowledge of a particular organization
Our community surveys ask a range of questions which will help to expand our knowledge of African American history, illuminate the diversity within the community, and recognize the culture and memory keepers who are already caring for the community’s historical records.
About the Schenectady African American Historical Records Project:
Acknowledging that primary sources are the keys to understanding history and access to those materials helps communities to connect to their past, the African American Historical Records Project will create an online catalog of historical records within the Black Community in Schenectady.
Our goal is to identify where those records are, what condition they are in, and how researchers can access them. We hope the catalog and the records uncovered during the project will become a foundation for future research, preservation, and education. African Americans have been part of Schenectady since colonial times, but their presence, activities, and experiences are significantly underrepresented in the collections available to the public in repositories like SCHS. Churches, community organizations, black-owned businesses, and individuals have their own historical collections. The catalog will connect those isolated collections and make them visible and available to the public.
The project received a grant award from the Documentary Heritage Program, an initiative of the New York State Archives. Funding for the survey phase of the project has been provided by Schenectady County and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Working with an advisory committee of prominent community members, we hope to engage the community in telling their own stories and preserving the materials that illustrate and complement the history and heritage.
There are a lot of different ways that people record their lives and experiences: church records, organization or business records, diaries, oral histories, letters, photographs, videos, music, and art. Our goal is to support preservation for all types of items created by African Americans in Schenectady and connected to the community’s history.
Thank you to our project committee members: Miki Conn, Sophia Delamar, Philip Fields, Julia Holcomb, Johan Matthews, Adonis Richards, William Rivas, Sarah Schmidt, and Walter Simpkins. Thank you to our consulting archivists: Micha Broadnax and Kijua Sanders-McMurtry.
Anyone looking for information on the African American Historical Records Project or wishing to participate in the survey should contact Marietta Carr at the Schenectady County Historical Society at 518-374-0263, option 3, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.