Thomas recently connected with Rodney Freeman, creator of the platform Black Male Archives via Linked In. Intrigued by his work, we invited Rodney to share more some of his personal family archives and tell us about his history with photo preservation.
I’m a librarian with a passion for saving/preserving pictures. I’ve been a librarian for close to a decade now but as I think back to when I was growing up, running around my grandmother’s house on the Southside of Chicago. I use to creep downstairs to the basement to see what my grandfather was up to in his fortress of solitude and I remember him having tons (not really, more like 4 or 5) photo albums lying around his place with a number of newspaper clippings cut out and posted on the walls around his room in the basement. I would always wonder why my grandpa would do this, but I didn’t find out until years later when I started digitizing my family photos (the process of turning physical pictures into digital so they can be preserved, accessed and shared with family members) that he had left our family with many significant treasures. He had collected and safeguarded several photo albums when he was in WWII. He also passed on to the family, two journals that were detailed graphic accounts of the battles he participated in overseas. I found out so much information about my grandfather.
Surprisingly, he was not the only one in the family with the bug to preserve history. My aunt Melissa, Grandmother’s sister, also recorded our family lineage. Just like my grandfather, she maintained photo albums and records of the Yates family tree. My aunt Mellissa was from Henderson, KY, and she knew everyone and everything in that small country town. I remember making the trip from Chicago to Henderson to visit her every summer, and when would venture around town witnessing how everyone seemed to have so much respect for her and the Yates family.
Now that I’m a librarian and personal digital archivist (a fancy word that means turning physical pictures to digital images). I recommend that everyone scan and back up their digital photos just in case their physical copy is destroyed or lost; you’ll still have a copy that you can love, cherish and share with the rest of your family members.
Rodney E. Freeman Jr. has worked in academic, public, and government libraries for over ten years. He has led numerous special projects from library renovation, space planning to strategic planning projects. He started Preservation LLC to help people preserve and convert their photos and documents onto a digital format. In 2018, Rodney developed The Black Male Archives with the objective to capture, curate, and promote positive stories about Black men in order to combat the negative images portrayed by the media. Rodney speaks on a range of topics from diverse library leadership, digital collections, and programming while also presenting on issues surrounding digital preservation and 3D modeling.