AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School of Library and Information Science and its Center for the Cultural Record, and Abamedia, LP, a Fort Worth, Texas-based new media development and production company, announced today an agreement to work together to create a multimedia encyclopedia for educational use world-wide.
Named World Archives Online for Education (WAO), the project has already cataloged more than 30,000 films from the Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents, which is near Moscow. Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, the son of the late Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who is in Austin today to address the “Friends of the LBJ Library,” is a participant in the project.
Containing more than 200,000 reels of film beginning with the coronation of Tsar Nicolas II in 1896 up to contemporary times, the archives feature more than one million photographic prints dating from the 1850s. In addition to the archives’ vast collection of films and photos featuring Nikita Khrushchev, WAO plans to also feature samples of films and photos from Sergei Khrushchev’s personal collection.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)—which the U.S. will be rejoining, according to President George W. Bush’s announcement at the United Nations on Sept. 12—has endorsed the project.
David B. Gracy II, former archivist of the State of Texas and the head of The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for the Cultural Record, said, “By providing free access to the world’s now mostly inaccessible audio visual archives—and in particular the Khrushchev films and photo—WAO not only will help conserve and propagate these cultural memories, but also will put them to their best possible use. The university is excited to participate in this unique venture, and integrate it into UT’s developing Digital Knowledge Gateway Project.”
Gracy noted that WAO combines public support with private investment to introduce modern cataloging and preservation techniques and technologies, to make the media resources—films, photographs, and sound clips—accessible to broad audiences, and to generate revenues for further investment in preservation. Original project funding was received from Internews Network’s Media Development Program in Russia, which is supported by the US Agency for International Development. The Open Society Archives in Budapest, Hungary, an affiliate of the Central European University and the Open Society Institute is also providing funding for the project.
WAO, which will offer free viewing of films and photos, is an outgrowth of Abamedia’s Russian Archives Online (RAO) project. Founded in 1996, RAO features the Russian State Film and Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk, long considered to be the premier repository of film and photo documents on the history of Russia and the former USSR.
Abamedia, founded by University of Texas at Austin graduate J. Mitchell Johnson, develops and produces television, film and new media programming for the world market. Among other achievements, its four-part PBS documentary "Red Files" featured materials from the Russian archive and won the 2000 International Documentary Association Award for "Best Limited Series."
Johnson said, "The occasion of Dr. Khrushchev’s appearance at the LBJ Library underscores the significance of the WAO project, and its ability to get together preeminent Russians and Americans to create something that will benefit people around the globe. We’re honored to have Dr. Khrushchev’s participation in the project and to have the chance to help preserve a significant piece of the World’s cultural memory. Working with Dr. Gracy’s team at the Center for the Cultural Record and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science is a great fit for WAO.”
Dr. Khrushchev is a senior research fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He writes extensively about the history of the Cold War and the turning points in the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Khrushchev, Eisenhower and Kennedy periods.
A winner of the Lenin Prize, Dr. Khrushchev participated in the Soviet missile and space program, including work on cruise missiles for submarines, military and research spacecraft, moon vehicles and the “Proton,” the world’s largest space booster. He is the editor of his father’s memoirs and a prolific author. His most recent book, Nikita Khrushchev and Creation of a Superpower, is the basis for a new Abamedia television series in development for PBS.
For more information contact: David B. Gracy II, Director of the Center for the Cultural Record, 512-471-8291.