The Great Migration is a unique digitization service program that partners the National Museum of African American History and Culture with individuals and organizations across the United States to preserve their important analog audiovisual media.
This initiative invites participants to schedule an appointment with the museum’s audiovisual conservation team in order to digitize the public’s home movies in the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center on the second floor of the museum. Media conservators will facilitate free digitization of motion picture film (16mm, Super 8, and Regular 8mm), obsolete videotape formats (Hi-8/8mm, MiniDV, 3/4″ U-matic, VHS, Betacam, 1″ open reel video, and 1/2″ open reel video) and various audio formats. Preservation and access are at the heart of this initiative.
In addition to the Great Migration, the National Museum of African American History & Culture has collected and preserved a number of African American home movies; from both known and unknown families. While major motion picture film and television historically lacked diverse representation, black history was instinctively being preserved in everyday home movies. Today, these personal narratives serve as an invaluable tool for understanding and re-framing black moving image history, and provide a much needed visualization of African American history and culture. Just as the museum explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture; these films are a moving image record of these values in practice (NMAAHC Collections Search).