Black Families Can Digitize Their Film for Free at the National Museum of African American History and Culture [updated]

Digitizing analog media such as video tapes is a tedious process and requires equipment that you may not have at home (your scanner cannot accurately convert a VHS cassette). To lower the barrier to media transformation, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is offering a free digitization program that will give African American families access to museum equipment and professionals to help transform analogue media into a searchable digital version.

A community curation program , available at the museum and supported by the Robert Frederick Smith Family History Center, aims to help people digitize analogue media to preserve cultural identity and further explore African American history.

Participants can bring their own analogue media such as audio recordings (Grooved Disc, DAT, CD-ROM, Audio Cassette, Reel-to-Reel Audiotape), video recordings (U-Matic, MiniDV, VHS, DigiBeta, Betacam, Hi-8), and film stock (35mm, 16mm, 8mm, Super 8) to the museum, where you can digitize and find converted recordings and films.

Over time, the museum will add selected digitized media to its Family History Center exhibit. Traditionally, converting videos into files on a flash drive would be an expensive ordeal, so the free service could potentially save families hundreds of dollars. To digitize your family’s touching memories, you need to send an email to the museum and make an appointment to attend in person and transform your media (at least you can tour the museum while you wait).

Updated 11/21/17: According to NMAAHC archivist Walter Forsberg, the museum only digitizes audiovisual media such as videotapes, audio tapes, and films. Photos cannot be converted. We have updated the article accordingly.


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