Hampton University Scholar Mounts Effort to Digitize Local Historical Documents

Historically Black Hampton University in Virginia has partnered with the Williamsburg Regional Library to preserve historic documents relating to the African American community in the greater Williamsburg area.

Maureen Elgersman Lee, an associate professor and chair of the department of political science and history at Hampton University, is leading a project that encourages African Americans to bring letters, documents, and other correspondence to the library where they are scanned and preserved in digital form. Participants get the original document and a digital copy of the document, which is also preserved in the library.

“The project is designed to raise awareness in the African-American community and in a broader sense as well, that it’s important to preserve documents,” Elgersman Lee told the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. “As historians we need documents.”

Among the items that residents brought to the library to be preserved was a 1920 letter from a member of the Buffalo Soldiers 10th Cavalry Regiment based in Leavenworth, Kansas, that was sent to a woman in Williamsburg and was found stuck in the pages of an old family Bible.

Dr. Elgersman Lee joined the Hampton University faculty in 2013. She is the author of Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950 (University Press of New England, 2005).

Dr. Elgersman Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Redeemer University College in Hamilton, Ontario. She earned master’s degree in African and African American studies and a doctorate in humanities, with a concentration in African American studies from Clark Atlanta University.  

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