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Uncrowned Queens Archives



Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women http://www.uncrownedcommunitybuilders.com

Founded in 1999 by Dr. Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, the Institute aims to collect, disseminate, and archive the histories of previously unheralded African Americans, as well as vulnerable documentation of African American local communities. The Institute's Mission Statement: To conduct research on the issues affecting women of color, to use this research to develop educational programs that will enhance the quality of life for women and their communities, to promote the collection and dissemination of the individual histories of women, women's organizations and women's collective history, and to teach and educate women on the use of technology to preserve and disseminate their histories. Initially, the project was established prior to the 2001 centennial of the Pan American Exposition in order to commemorate the involvement of African American women and the local African American community in the 1901 international Exposition. The magnitude of the project quickly grew to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of specific African American women during the turn of the century period and in the century since the fair. The project transformed into a major documentation of regional African American history requiring a sustainable organizational framework. The Uncrowned Queens Institute was incorporated in 2002 and was designated a 501 (c) 3 organization in 2003. It has an 11 member Board of Directors and receives funding through individual and corporate donations and grants. Nevergold and Brooks-Bertram created their Uncrowned Queens model of historical documentation and preservation to focus on the incorporation of histories of lesser-known or unheralded individuals who proved to be "community builders." The stories of these women and, more recently, men are collected through the mediums of oral histories, biographical accounts, photos, and other supporting data. Web and digital technologies, as well as print publications, are incorporated to archive, preserve, and present the collection of personal histories and supporting documentation. Personal memories are the principal source of this compelling historical record; thus the Institute serves a crucial role in the investigation, generation, and presentation of a community's history through the voices of its formative "builders." The Institute's name, Uncrowned Queens, was derived from the 1917 poem, "America's Uncrowned Queens," by Oklahoma pioneer and poet, Drusilla Dunjee Houston. The poem celebrates "a group of tireless, self-sacrificing black women who worked for the betterment of family and community."

The Uncrowned Queens Web site first appeared in 2001 and has grown to a dynamic online archive, or “techno-pedia,” a term coined by Nevergold, comprised of hundreds of biographies, oral histories, photographs, community documents, and historical vignettes.
The following are only a few examples of the projects and initiatives contributing to the Institute’s comprehensive programming and services:

  • Uncrowned Community Builders Web site.  The award-winning Web site (“techno-pedia”) is a digital repository for the historical assets of the African American communities of Western New York and Oklahoma.  The Web site also includes an innovative “Biography Tool” that allows individuals to submit new biographies and photos directly to the website or edit existing biographies.  The website is a valuable archive and tool for research, training, and teaching in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational institutions, as well as in community-based computer literacy training programs.  The Institute’s “techno-pedia” is updated frequently:   http://www.uncrownedcommunitybuilders.com 


Uncrowned Community Builders Digital Literacy Project. The project offers innovative, free-access web software enabling a variety of format and content beyond conventional texts in the application and discourse of public history.  Community historians will be taught to create historical content employing both traditional and new media narrative devices such as digital audio-files, video files, and scanned memorabilia/documents. With membership in the Institute’s program, community historians will be able to not only generate new content but to edit existing online content as well.

  •  Uncrowned Kings.  In 2007, in response to years of inquiries and requests from the community, the Institute developed an Uncrowned Kings companion project.  It identifies African American men who were crucial to the development of their communities.  While the Uncrowned Kings initiative will also have a national focus, it began with African American men in Buffalo and Western New York.
  • Uncrowned Queens and Kings in the Wings.  This Web-based initiative recognizes young people who have already engaged in community-building activities.  
  • Culture Keeper Award.  With this award, established in 2002, the Institute recognizes, supports, and promotes the activities of individuals and organizations to preserve cultural and historical assets of the African American community.
  • Uncrowned Queens Archives Program.  Through collaboration with the University at Buffalo’s University Archives, the Institute established a program to find and secure the personal papers, photos, awards, and other memorabilia of local African American Uncrowned Queens.  The first collection to be secured and donated to the University Archives is that of Eva Noles, the first African American to graduate from a Buffalo school of nursing, the Edward J. Meyer Memorial Hospital Training School for Nurses.

  • Educational Curricula.  The Institute’s co-founders, both educators, have developed curriculum and workshop presentations related to their research on local AfricanAmerican history, African-American women’s history, family history research, lessons learned from the development of the project itself, and more.

  • Illuminations: Uncrowned Queens Community Builders. The half-hour weekly access television program was produced and hosted by the Institute’s co-founders, Drs. Nevergold and Brooks-Bertram.  It spotlighted the activities and accomplishments of Uncrowned Queens and Kings.  Gregory Barber served as the director and videographer.
  • Uncrowned Queens Oral History Interviews.  The Institute received funding from the Educational Technology Center (now Digital Library Center) of the University at Buffalo to conduct a pilot oral history project.  This project established the foundation for a more extensive program, which included the provision of instruction in oral history research. 
  • Uncrowned Queens Health Network.  The Institute developed a broad network of partnerships with women’s organizations, in addition to individual women, that provides a basis for research and education on health issues relevant to women of color.  The UQ Health Network is a means of raising awareness, increasing interest in participating in health care clinical trials, and in conducting participatory research related to health issues disproportionately affecting women of color, e.g. lupus, colon cancer, breast cancer, and others.
Uncrowned Queens Publishing and SUNY Press Book Publications
  • Go, Tell Michelle.  SUNY Press, 2009.  Compiled and edited by Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram.  Print and audio book formats available.  One hundred African-American and African women send messages of support and hope to First Lady Michelle Obama. 
  • Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Community Builders of Oklahoma 1907-2007.  Volume IV.  Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram.  Uncrowned Queens Publishing, 2007.  Biographies and photos of 106 women appear in the text.  University of Oklahoma Ph.D. candidate in History, John Mark Rhea authored the introduction.  Dr. JoAnn Haysbert, President of Langston University, penned the forward.
  • Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Community Builders of Western New York Series:  Volume I – III.  Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Barbara Seals Nevergold.  Uncrowned Queens Publishing, 2002, 2003 and 2005.   Each volume in the series features biographies and photographs of 100 women who helped to build the Buffalo, Western New York, and border cities of Canada communities and original papers by Nevergold and Brooks-Bertram. 


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Uncrowned Queens Archive





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