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Friday, October 5, 2012

Hidden Treasures in the ACM Archives: The Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters Collection

Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters (AIB) began broadcasting religious programming in 1969. Inspired by the diverse religious communities of the Atlanta, GA region, Rev. John H. Allen founded the network with the goal of allowing people from all communities and faiths to share their stories with the public. AIB is still operational and is the nation’s largest regional interfaith network.

In 1991, AIB gifted a collection of video oral histories collected from 1989-1994 to the Anacostia Community Museum.  The collection is comprised of 160 analog videotapes, all in the ¾” U-matic format, which was the most common video format used by broadcasters at the time. The collection includes interviews from an array of African-American religious and community leaders from the Atlanta region, many of whom were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. There are also recordings of select worship services, conferences, and celebrations. The histories document not only the religions of the area, but also the ways of life and the struggle for civil rights in both urban and rural areas of Georgia as remembered by pastors, reverends, soldiers, school teachers, radio announcers, journalists, and more. 

Some notable interviews are those of Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, who served on Dr. Martin Luther King’s executive staff under Dr. King’s direct supervision and C.A. Scott, co-founder, editor and publisher of the Atlanta Daily World newspaper. There are also a number of tapes about Women 'N Touch Ministry, which brought women ministers from around the country to deliver guest sermons, including interviews with the Ministry's founder, Rev. Lorraine White.

The AIB collection, along with the other audiovisual materials in the Anacostia Community Museum Archives, is currently being inventoried and cataloged at the item level to provide researchers with more access to these historic materials and free the collection of its status as a "hidden" treasure. 

For more on AIB and its current programming, visit

Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.

Taylor McBride, Audiovisual Archivist
Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

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