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$1.2 million to help document world conflicts

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$1.2 million to help document world conflicts

The University of Texas Libraries have received a $1.2 million grant from the Bridgeway Foundation to collect and preserve in digital form the fragile record of genocide and human rights conflicts worldwide. The foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc., in Houston, has taken an active role in combating oppression, genocide, and human rights violations.

Through its service to international human rights scholars, activists, and students, the University of Texas Libraries identified a need to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations, a necessity the Bridgeway Foundation also discovered through its philanthropic work.

“There is a very real danger that fragile primary resources documenting actors and actions in human rights conflicts around the world will be destroyed by environmental or human attack,” says Fred Heath, UT’s vice provost for University Libraries. “This generous grant will help us make giant strides toward locating those resources, preserving them as evidence, and making them available to conflict survivors, scholars, activists, and students of human rights for generations to come.”

The project’s strategy begins with the collection and cataloging of fragile or transient Web sites of human rights advocacy and genocide watch. The Internet is a primary avenue for information and misinformation on human rights conflict, and for organizations and individuals alike to document what is occurring. The University of Texas Libraries will identify, organize and preserve these records. Audio and video documentation, formats that are especially endangered, will form another core of the libraries’ digital preservation programming.

“As the institution primarily charged with maintaining the foundational resources for research and study at the University,” Heath says, “we are honored to be charged with a trust of information vital to understanding of this devastating socio-political phenomenon. At a time when the library as a traditional model is seeking to corral and restructure the deluge of information available through new technologies, this unique resource will provide insight into an often misunderstood aspect of global politics.”

The University of Texas Libraries initiated its efforts through a partnership with the Kigali Memorial Centre (KMC), which was established and is administered by the Aegis Trust (UK) in cooperation with the Kigali City Council to document and memorialize the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Records of the genocide from the Kigali Memorial Centre include survivor testimonies and local court recordings. They will be digitized by UT and preserved in the University Libraries’ digital repository.

With the KMC, the libraries will design secure storage and access tools for these unique primary resources. A similar project is also under way to preserve and provide digital access to deteriorating recordings of historical broadcasts from a clandestine radio station in El Salvador during that country’s civil war.

Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. is an investment management firm founded in 1993. Bridgeway is committed to donating 50 percent of its investment advisory fee profits to charitable and non-profit organizations. The firm’s charitable arm, Bridgeway Foundation, is a catalyst for hope and reconciliation throughout the world, working towards the prevention of oppression, genocide, and human rights violations.

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