Chester NAACP Honors Widener Librarians for Preserving Civil Rights History

The Chester Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) honored two Widener University librarians for their work to preserve the history of the NAACP and the civil rights movement in the city of Chester. They were honored on April 27 at the 101st Annual NAACP Chester Branch Awards Dinner.

Jan Alexander of Media, Pa., archivist and reference librarian; and Jill Borin of Chadds Ford, Pa., assistant archivist and reference librarian at the Wolfgram Memorial Library at Widener, received the George T. Raymond Freedom Award for preserving the historic papers of George T. Raymond, the man for whom their award is named. Raymond served as president of the Chester NAACP for 25 years including during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He died in 1999.

Alexander and Borin scanned and digitized hundreds of documents, newspaper clippings, and photographs from three scrapbooks which were part of the Raymond papers that were donated to the university by his family in 2009. Two of the scrapbooks, created by Raymond, chronicled the civil rights movement in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. The third book, created by Patricia Taylor for the Chester NAACP, captures the tumultuous year of 1963–64, which drew national attention to the city. They also scanned numerous additional documents that were part Raymond’s collected papers. The digitized collection is available to researchers and the general public online athttp://digitalwolfgram.widener.edu.

Alexander said she was “deeply honored” by the award and called the Raymond papers “a very valuable historical resource.”

“There is a movement across Pennsylvania to preserve black history in the state,” Alexander said. “The Raymond papers are a perfect example of what needs to be preserved.”

Borin echoed Alexander’s sentiments about the award and their work on the project. “When we received these papers, I realized what a treasure trove of history they contained,” she said. “I was so pleased to have the opportunity to make them available to researchers.”

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,600 students. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.

 

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