Umbra Search African American History is a freely available widget (an element of a graphical user interface that displays) information or provides a specific way for a user to interact with an operation system or an application and search tool via umbrasearch.org that facilitates access to African American history through digitization content, community events and workshops developed by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries' Archives and Special Collections, with Penumbra Theatre Company.
The service is a response to a project dedicated to understanding the role of theater archives in documenting history. However, the scope of immediately went beyond theater and the performing arts to unite the historical artifacts and documents that represent the full depth and breadth of the African American experience--its people, places, ideas, events, movements, and inspirations in hope that this rich history will find new life and form in theater, literature, works of art, journalism, scholarship, teaching curricula, and much more.
Hence the project began in 2012 with 'Preserving the Ephemeral: An Archival Program for Theater and the Performing Arts" (https://www.lib.umn.edu/about/ephemeral/), originally conceived as The African American Theater History Project with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Preserving the Ephemeral was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Penumbra Theatre Company to assess the needs of the theater community, and ethnic theaters in particular, around questions of archives and historical legacy wherein over 300 theater representatives responded to a national survey in partnership with American Theatre Archive Project, and artistic directors and founders from over 60 theaters around the U.S. participated in forums convened to discuss the challenges and heightened importance of archives for culturally specific companies.
The Givens Collection consists of over...