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Michigan Humanities Grant to Further Jim Crow Museum Intentions for Bruce Davidson Civil Rights Photographs


A collection of images taken during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by renowned photographer Bruce Davidson will be preserved and displayed by the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, through a $15,000 grant awarded in October by Michigan Humanities.

Michigan Humanities, the state’s affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities, approved 13 grants totaling $171,925 in their Fall 2020 cycle. The Jim Crow Museum’s proposal was one of eight to receive the $15,000 maximum. Cyndi Tiedt, the Jim Crow Museum educator and collections database administrator, said the Davidson collection came to the Museum in November 2018. She added that the grant would allow them to take appropriate steps to preserve and display these works.

“Early in 2021, we will be cataloging, digitizing and framing the images so that the original prints will not be at risk for deterioration and can be viewed without obstruction,” Tiedt said. “Having a digital database will make the collection easier to manage. Our founder, David Pilgrim, will help us group the Davidson collection in themes, particularly as the images relate to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The Michigan Humanities grant will also support the Museum’s acquisition of travel crates from a vendor to facilitate transportation of the Davidson collection for exhibit elsewhere.

“Our preparations will also include the design and printing of informational panels to go with each image,” Tiedt said. “Our application for the Michigan Humanities grant called for a display from the collection during the summer months in Big Rapids, then a fall exhibition at another gallery in Grand Rapids, perhaps at the university’s Kendall College of Art and Design. We will track attendance and get feedback at each of these 2021 exhibition locations while we begin to explore future sites to present these images.”

Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University and Alma College also received grants from Michigan Humanities. The president and CEO of the nonprofit, Shelly Kasprzycki, said they are proud to support connections to the state’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

“Our new round of humanities grantees are creating a diverse set of online and in-person projects to ensure the humanities remain vibrant in Michigan while we face these unprecedented times together,” Kasprzycki said.