Preserving the past: Archivist speaks on preserving Black cemetery records

 UC’s Black Future Month features lecture by Meredith Evans   

As part of its full slate of Black Future Month events, the University of Cincinnati welcomes Meredith Evans, historian and 75th president of the Society of American Archivists, for a lecture on the power and significance of archival history for the future of Black communities in America.

The event is 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Probasco Auditorium, 2839 Clifton Ave., and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. and a livestream will be available. Registration is required.

The lecture is the result of a partnership between UC ‘s Charles P. Taft Research Center and Union Baptist Church, Cincinnati’s oldest Black Baptist church. The joint effort is part of an initiative to preserve Black historical records, specifically the cemetery records of Union Baptist Cemetery (established in 1864) and the United Colored American Cemetery (established in1883).  

Headshot of Meredith Evans

Meredith Evans Photo/provided

In addition to her work with the Society of American Archivists, Evans also serves as the appointed director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. She has had managerial roles in archiving, special collections and exhibit spaces at universities across the country and has written on the role and value that library sciences have in the preservation of records. She also has served as a medium for advocates to inspire and defend social change.

The lecture is just one of many events scheduled for Black Future Month, as coordinated by Holly McGee, professor of Africana Studies in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

"Having the 74th president of the Society of American Archivists, Dr. Meredith Evans, come to Cincinnati in celebration of an archival event that showcases historical preservation work in African American communities across the nation is a reflection of the university's sincerity to substantively contribute to the intellectual growth, development and future of both Black history and the larger field of Black studies,” McGee said. 

Evans will be joined by Leo Yakutis, technology consultant and member of the Union Foundation Advisory Committee. Yakutis will share information on a 10-year plan to preserve and digitize the historical records of the cemeteries that are the resting place of many Black Cincinnatians and Black American war veterans.

Evans earned a master's degree in library science from Clark Atlanta University, a master's degree in public history from North Carolina State University and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation examined black churches in the Atlanta area to test the attitudes of church leaders and their congregants towards the preservation of institutional history. 

That weekend, Union Baptist Church will dedicate its Sunday service to commemorating Black History Month, followed by a guided tour of the Union Baptist Cemetery. The church is located at 405 W. 7th St., and the cemetery is located at 4933 Cleves Warsaw Pike in Price Hill. The service and tour are free and open to the public. 

Featured image at top: Established in 1864, Union Baptist Cemetary stands as the oldest cemetary in Hamilton County. Photo/Union Baptist Church 

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