Morgan State University Receives Grant of Nearly $250,000 to Support Research of Pioneering Black Anthropologist Ellen Irene Diggs

Personal Papers of the Late Morgan Faculty Great Provide Humanities Education, Career Experience for Students

BALTIMORE — The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Morgan State University (MSU) a one-year, $248,551 grant to implement a comprehensive interpretive project titled, “Ellen Irene Diggs: Creating Pathways for Young Pioneers.” Based on the personal papers of Ellen Irene Diggs, Ph.D., a pioneering African-American scholar, researcher and former Morgan faculty member, the project chronicles her distinguished career, enabling a new generation of MSU students to benefit from her lifework. The collection is presently housed in the Earl S. Richardson Library’s Beulah M. Davis Special Collections: Davis Room.

With the nearly $250,000 grant, Morgan will fund an internship program for more than 40 MSU undergraduate and graduate students and volunteers who will engage in archival research, preservation and anthropology. Project activities will include enhancement of public access to the Diggs collection, through an online exhibit, student posters and panels that will be part of the 120th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, in Baltimore, Maryland, Nov. 17–21, 2021. In addition, a professional development program funded by the IMLS grant, and implemented through the Richardson Library, Morgan’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, MSU’s School of Education and Urban Studies, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, will include workshops and instructional materials for Morgan students. The program will also benefit more than 400 K–12 students in Baltimore during the grant project, by providing 90 teachers with enhanced curricula in humanities and social studies.

“Our intention is to really cultivate undergraduate and graduate students’ interest in archival material as well as anthropology and research, and to have the students see how theoretical coursework can be applied to jobs and, especially, to careers,” said MSU Archivist Ida Jones, Ph.D., director of the project, which is an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary effort.


Morgan State Students pictured studying at Earl S. Richardson Library. (Photo Courtesy of Office of Morgan State University)

Morgan State University Archivist Ida Jones, Ph.D. (Photo Courtesy of Office of Morgan State University)

Archival photograph of Ellen Irene Diggs, Ph.D. (left). (Photo Courtesy of Office of Morgan State University)

Archival image of personal correspondence from Dr. Ellen Irene Diggs (Photo Courtesy of Office of Morgan State University)

Archival photo of letter of reference from W.E.B. Du Bois for Dr. Ellen Irene Diggs. (Photo Courtesy of Office of Morgan State University)