Preserving Black History, Americans Care For National Treasures At Home : NPR: In a hall inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama on Saturday, long tables are draped with black linen. Experts are bent over tables, examining aging quilts, letters filled with tight, hand-penned script, and yellowing black-and-white photos tacked into crackling albums — all family keepsakes brought in by local residents.
It looks like the TV program Antiques Roadshow has come to town. But these are experts from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, here as part of a series of workshops around the country to help identify and protect items of cultural significance.
The relics and heirlooms of African-American families, the Smithsonian says, can help tell the story of America — and should be preserved. To that end, the museum is educating people about how to take care of their own history, making ordinary people collectors of the nation's heritage.