January 5, 2016

Fishing Heritage Center lands Cultural Heritage Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is excited to announce their receipt of a $12,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Cultural Heritage Grant. The grant will support a project to digitize the cultural heritage of New Bedford’s fishing community. The project is a collaboration involving the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center (NBFHC), University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts Boston, UMass Dartmouth Archives and Special Collections, MIT Sea Grant, the New Bedford Public Library, and New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

Commercial fishing is often a family activity with skills and knowledge passed from one generation to the next. Consequently, much of this history resides in the photo albums, documents, and artifacts of fishing families. This project will digitize these materials through a day-long public event in combination with “house calls” to digitally document materials from individuals who are unable to attend the event. The project will be bookended by a variety of public programs which will serve to inspire community participation, evoke memories, and provide an interpretive framework for materials that are brought forward. Digitizing these materials, making them publicly available, and using them to tell the story of the fishing community will create a lasting legacy for families who have spent generations working the water in what is one of the nation’s oldest occupations.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding which will further our efforts to document and preserve the rich heritage of New Bedford’s fishing community. We look forward to engaging active and retired fishermen, shoreside workers, and their families in this project.” - Laura Orleans, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Executive Director

Following the digitization event, UMass Boston will process images and metadata and will provide storage and public access through the University’s online repository. These materials will be included in the Digital Commonwealth and Digital Public Library of America. In addition to UMass Boston’s online repository, the resulting digital collection will be publicly archived as part of digital collections at the UMass Dartmouth Archives and Special Collections, the New Bedford Public Library, and the Massachusetts Public Library Digital Initiative, and shared as part of digital exhibits on the NBFHC website (currently under development). Those who participate by sharing their photographs, documents, or artifacts will be given a USB drive containing the scanned images of their materials.

This article first appeared in the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Newsletter. Please check out their facebook page New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center for more information or to sign up for their newsletter