Everyone knows the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words. In the case of teaching and learning, this could not be truer or better documented. Educational research has also documented the ways that limited use of images based on existing stereotypes are equally powerful, underscoring entrenched ideas students may have.
Teachers and scholars of African American history know this all too well. Images of everyday African American life are scarce, at best. Most mainstream news media, large museums, and archives with the resources to digitize their visual collections primarily document white American life. When African Americans are depicted in these collections, the context is typically limited to the exceptional: celebrities, riots, crime, extreme poverty, and war, to name just a few.
Rare are the photos of everyday, middle-class life: families at home, children at play, men and women at work or school. Equally rare are photos of the many local leaders, committed educators, grassroots organizers, and entrepreneurs who shaped cities like Baltimore, influencing whole generations of African Americans, their names largely lost to history along with their faces.
This project aims to address these holes by developing a tool that will make it possible for small archives and museums to digitize their photographic holdings at low cost. However, since the Gado 1 is an Open Source device, the project is not limited to these contexts; anyone is free to take any aspect of the machine and apply it wherever low-cost, autonomous digitization is needed.