Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Center for Southern Folklore outdoes itself, which isn't easy

Full disclosure: I am a member of the board of directors for the Center for Southern Folklore.
Last night, an event thirty-two years in the making took place at the Center, with the opening of the online exhibit, TAYLOR MADE, the collection of the photographs, films and audio recordings of the Reverend L.O. Taylor of Memphis.
Reverend Taylor took photographs and made films and recordings of life in Memphis in the 1920 through the 1950s, and thanks to the work of the Center's archivists, they have been able to digitize this collection so that you may access it from your computer.
As Michael Taft of the Library of Congress noted at last night's opening, what makes this so very special is that this is documentation of the African-American community from the INSIDE, and not from white Northerners who had no idea about the culture of the South or the African-American community. This is truly unlike anything you have seen, and what's great about this is you can PARTICIPATE as well!
If you see someone in one of the films, photos, or recordings that you recognize, there is an email address next to that item, and we urge you to email us with that information, as there are lots of unidentified people in these pieces.
I want you to visit this exhibit, so that you get a full understanding of what the Center for Southern Folklore does, day in and day out, as we're not just the producers of the BEST FREE FESTIVAL IN MEMPHIS.
Of course, I personally want to thank Elisa, Changzhi, Bridgett, Tim, and of course, the lovely Lauren, who worked on this before coming to work with me, for the yeoman's work they did on this project.
I'll let the words of our director, Judy Peiser, sum this up:

The Taylor Collection is part of the Center for Southern Folklore'sMultimedia Archives which preserves and digitizes the images and voices we have recorded and collected over the last 37 years. We plan to produce more on line exhibits showcasing Rev. Taylor and many other photographers, artists, musicians, talkers and cooks whose work defines our region. We hope these exhibits provide a window for men and women across the globe to learn about the music, culture, arts and rhythms of the Memphis Delta region.


Taylor Made would not be possible without the generous support of local and national foundations and agencies. The Assisi Foundation of Memphis,The Plough Foundation, The Grammy Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts have provided the resources to digitize and organize our Multimedia Archives. The National Park Service's Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities insures the preservation of the Rev. L.O. Taylor Collection and provides the resources for the Center to make exhibits like this available for people to learn about Rev. Taylor and his important legacy.