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Library of Congress, National Archives, Moorland-Spingarn Collection treasures

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The Anacostia Community Museum is one of the great hidden treasures in Washington. It took a plane, train, and automobile to visit the museum on a tour of Washington to see the Library of Congress, National Archives, and Moorland-Spingarn Collections as a Professor of English at Allen University in December of 1987. It was worth the trip to Washington from Columbia, South Carolina.

Yet the treasures and priceless works of art in each of the centers made it clear that not going to see these landmarks is a grave mistake. Cheryl Adams of the Library of Congress Manuscripts and Special Collections Division has spent 26 years of her life helping scholars locate literary treasures. On March 7th, the Library of Congress professional not only located the book that the present writer wrote over a quarter of a century ago; moreover, she devised a way to scan long forgotten chapters by placing them on a memory card as opposed to making expensive copies of the book in the Library of Congress Special Collection.

This type of customer service and customer care has been experienced by this writer for 40 years at Library of Congress since Why Not? was written in 1972 and later registered for copyright there. Cheryl Adams and her professional library and special collections colleagues at The National Archives and the Moorland Spingarn Collections are seldom given the spotlight or credit for the work they do every single day in preserving the history and culture of the nation. Adams said that she has done her job for 26 years with the same goal of helping customers.

The late Walter Hill of the National Archives had the same dedication and commitment to his field. In first meeting Hill at the National Archives he was amazed that a man who had taught in Africa, had written a thesis on African American Writers, and had recently written a book on the oldest African-American organization in America was also an expert on American Country Music and had served as a Weekend Anchor and DJ at a Country Music Radio Station before being a college professor at Allen University.

Hill was a specialist in African-American history with a special emphasis on American Slavery. He also knew that from the Buffalo Soldiers to the Tuskegee Airmen, that African-Americans were as diverse and complex as any other group in America. Hill worked closely with Oklahoman John Hope Franklin on the history of African Americans and on the Emancipation Proclamation exhibits at the National Archives.

No story would be complete without the mention of Dorothy Porter Wesley. Wesley was a small woman with a brilliant mind and a love for the preservation of history and culture. Her hard work made the Moorland-Spingarn Collection one of the greatest repositories in America. Her location of the first book of poetry by an African American writer from South Carolina came with request that the writer promise to share his knowledge she helped to research with the students at her beloved Howard University.

This Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements of all women. Great women like Dorothy Porter Wesley should be remember beside women who work every single day, like Cheryl Adams at the Library of Congress, to help customers locate books and materials and to remember the history and culture that made America great.

Tomorrow in celebration of International Women’s Day, five successful women entrepreneurs and advocates from the cultural community give their perspectives on modern women and entrepreneurship and how they define their successes. The panel includes Juanita Britten, owner of Anacostia Arts Gallery and Boutique; Louise Kennelly, executive director, D.C. Arts and Humanities Collaborative; Kate Taylor Davis, director, Anacostia Arts Center; and others. Moderated by Camille Akeju, director, Anacostia Community Museum.there will be a panel discussion and exhibition at the Anacostia Community Museum that will showcase the achievements of women in business and finance. The program is scheduled from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. For information on the museum follow the links in the Mardi Gras/ Family Day article listed on this page.

Tomorrow is Women's International Day.

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