Ford Foundation grant to digitize Margaret Walker’s journals, spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, now complete

By Tommiea J. King

The Margaret Walker Center recently launched its Digital Archives Project,, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

Margaret Walker

Part of a three-year project initiated by the Center’s former director, Alferdteen Harrison, the work of scanning and digitizing more than 130 of Margaret Walker’s personal journals, dating from the 1930s to the 1990s and totaling more than 10,000 hand-written pages, required 27 staff members, graduate assistants, and grant consultants.

Margaret Walker’s academic and artistic legacies as a scholar, author, teacher, and activist are unparalleled. With classic works such as her poem “For My People” and the neo-slave narrative Jubilee, based on the memories of her maternal grandmother, Walker was a tangible connection between the diverse group of artists who comprised the Harlem Renaissance and modern black writers such as Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and James Baldwin.

At Jackson State University, Margaret Walker was a long-time faculty member in the English Department, and, in 1968, she founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People — a museum and archive at JSU that today bears her name: the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African-American Experience.

One of the single largest collections of a modern, black female writer anywhere in the world, Walker’s literary, administrative, and personal papers are the centerpiece of the Center’s manuscript collections. Thanks to another major grant from the National for the Humanities that will run through June 2012, approximately 50 percent of these papers will be digitized and posted online for scholars, educators, students, and all people interested in the life and times of Margaret Walker.

For more information, contact Robert Luckett, director of the Margaret Walker Center, at or 601-979-2055.


2 thoughts on “Ford Foundation grant to digitize Margaret Walker’s journals, spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, now complete

  1. Thank you, Dr. Robert Luckett and Dr. Harrison for your innovative and imaginative thinking, and your leadership in digitizing Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander’s writings.

    I look forward to the 2015 anniversary celebration, in recognition of Dr. Alexander’s 100th birthday.

    The MWA center is a campus jewel.

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