Film & Media Archive Receives Grant to Digitize “Eyes on the Prize II” Footage

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a grant of $226,392 to Washington University Libraries’ Film & Media Archive to fund the Eyes on the Prize II Interview Digitization and Dissemination Project.

The project will digitize 106 hours from the original 16 mm camera negatives of 182 interviews conducted in the production of Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965-1985, the second half of the seminal documentary series that chronicles the civil rights movement.

The series was originally released in two parts: Eyes on the Prize America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965 in 1985 and Eyes on the Prize II : America at the Racial Crossroads  1965-1985 in 1988. Produced by St. Louis native and Washington University alum Henry Hampton (1940-1998) through his Boston-based film-production company, Blackside, Inc., the series as a whole won more than 20 major awards and attracted over 20 million viewers.

The Film & Media Archive received grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to preserve and digitize Eyes on the Prize America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965, along with 75 hours of unedited interviews conducted for that series. The project  was completed in 2016. The complete Eyes on the Prize interviews are part of the Film & Media Archive’s Henry Hampton Collection.

Still from interview with singer and activist Harry Belafonte from “Eyes on the Prize II”

The funding for the new digitization project came about through the NEH’s Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program. The NEH has awarded a total of $28.6 million in grants for 233 humanities projects across the country .

Other projects include the preservation of the papers of writer Eudora Welty and the creation of an online archive chronicling a century of women’s rights activism through 1920.

“We are so excited to finally make the complete interviews from Eyes II fully accessible and freely available,” says Nadia Ghasedi, associate university librarian for Special Collections Services. “There are hours of never-before-seen footage within these interviews that are significant to the cultural and historical record. We are grateful to the NEH for funding this important project.”

For more information about the Eyes on the Prize II Interview Digitization and Dissemination Project, contact Joy Novak, head of Special Collections Management for the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections, at (314) 935-9820 or jnovak@wustl.edu.

 

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