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Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. was pastor of Brooklyn’s Bethany Baptist Church for over 40 years and a significant figure in the African-American community. In the mid-1970’s New Jersey radio station WFME approached him with an offer to have his Sunday sermons broadcast as The Bethany Hour in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut markets. Brooklyn College Archives has the Jones collection, which contains cassette recordings of several hundred of these sermons, as well as video recordings from the program’s short time on broadcast television. With no playback equipment for patrons, and concerned about the physical integrity of the recordings, the archives decided to digitize the materials. With a tight budget and no digitization expertise on staff, the archives applied for and won a Council on Library and Information Resources Recordings-at-Risk grant. Despite some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was made available to the public at the end of March 2021.
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