DPLA Welcomes New Partner District Digital, Representing Washington, D.C.

Posted by Samantha Gibson in May 15, 2018.

We are pleased to announce that the collections of our newest Service Hub, District Digital, are now discoverable in DPLA. Led by partners DC Public Library and Washington Research Library Consortium, District Digital brings over 50,000 new materials representing the history of our nation’s capital to DPLA. District Digital joins other landmark D.C. institutions like the National Archives, Smithsonian Institution, and Library of Congress as DPLA contributors, making the local history of the District’s neighborhoods, residents, and colleges and universities available alongside the sweeping collections of our national repositories. Together, our contributing institutions from the District of Columbia demonstrate what makes both the city of Washington, D.C. and DPLA so unique: local stories alongside national heritage and rich materials from a broad array of cultural and educational institutions, from community archival collections to the US federal government.

District Digital’s collections represent Washington, D.C.’s unique history as a center for education, social and political activism, and culture. With these new additions to DPLA, researchers can view landmark events of the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Poor People’s Campaign, through the lens of a D.C. resident; explore student experiences at Gallaudet University, the first school for the advanced education of the deaf and hard of hearing in the world; discover D.C.’s rich history as a center for jazz music; trace the effort to establish Washington, D.C. as the state of New Columbia in the 1980s; and much more!

Explore highlights from District Digital’s collections below or start exploring today!

DC Public Library’s collection of color photographs by physician and amateur photographer Dr. Darrell C. Crain, Jr. offers an eyewitness perspective on landmark events of the Civil Rights Movement, including the Poor People’s Campaign, which took place fifty years ago this month, and the March on Washington. Crain’s photographs contribute to a rich body of materials in DPLA documenting these events. Crain’s photographs also capture uniquely D.C. experiences like celebrating the US bicentennial on the National Mall, everyday life in the District, and Crain’s travels elsewhere in the US during the mid-twentieth century.

A group of young women cool off by dipping their feet in the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool near Resurrection City, during the Poor People’s Campaign, May, 1968, courtesy of DC Public Library via District Digital.

Marchers during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, courtesy of DC Public Library via District Digital.

A crowd celebrates the US Bicentennial, 1976, courtesy of DC Public Library via District Digital.

Gallaudet University, founded 1864, is the only university in the world at which all programs are designed to serve students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Gallaudet’s historical photograph collection documents the history of both Gallaudet and primary schools for deaf children across the country, dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1990s. While Gallaudet is a unique and pioneering educational institution, many of the materials in this collection demonstrate the ways that the student experience at Gallaudet is much like any other college—marked by vibrant student activities, sports events, and an evolving campus landscape.

College pennant, photos from home, cozy blanket, and plenty of coffee mugs? Some things about dorm life never change. Fowler Hall interior ca. 1900s, courtesy of Gallaudet University via District Digital.

Gallaudet’s 1916-1917 Women’s Basketball team, courtesy of Gallaudet University via District Digital.

Three women sign at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind at Hampton, ca. 1950, courtesy of Gallaudet University via District Digital.

As home to some of the nation’s most renowned artists like Duke Ellington and premier clubs along the U Street Corridor, Washington, D.C. has a rich history as a hub for jazz music. For over forty years, radio broadcaster Felix Grant was a seminal figure in the D.C. jazz scene—interviewing legendary musicians, hosting concerts and events, and playing new sounds including jazz and Brazilian Bossa Nova for listeners throughout the city. The Felix Grant collection from the University of the District of Columbia includes photographs, documents, and ephemera from his four decade career.

Felix Grant interviews Cab Calloway, 1948, courtesy of University of the District of Columbia via District Digital.

A publicity photograph of Ella Fitzgerald and her orchestra, 1940, courtesy of University of the District of Columbia via District Digital.

Felix Grant with Brazilian guitarist and Bossa Nova pioneer João Gilberto, 1961, courtesy of University of the District of Columbia via District Digital.

Finally, explore D.C.’s efforts to navigate its unique status between city and state. In 1982, delegates convened for the District of Columbia State Constitutional Convention, after sixty percent of D.C. residents voted in favor of statehood. Meeting between February and May of 1982, the convention developed a constitution for the state of New Columbia, which was ratified by District voters that fall. Congress, however, failed to pass a bill admitting the new state to the United States. Explore this turning point moment in D.C.’s history through the transcripts from the State Constitutional Convention, contributed by George Washington University. During the May 29, 1982 proceedings, Ward 1 delegate Anita Shelton shared her enthusiasm for the constitution the convention had crafted:

“I cast my vote based on 20 years of decisive work in this community in the interest of freedom and self-determination…I am personally proud to associate myself with the Section on Freedom from Discrimination…In the New Columbia, Discrimination will be eradicated, and for the first time, those who have labored so long in the civil rights field will have an opportunity to serve the State without fear of discrimination and without regard for race, creed, or color.”

Please join us in warmly welcoming District Digital to DPLA!