By the 1990 merger with the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Memory Bank had amassed a collection of about 1,500 folk songs and had videotaped the rituals and ceremonies of some twenty folk groups representative of the fourteen parishes. These audiovisual materials were stored at the ACIJ/JMB library.
These audiovisual materials reflect various aspects of Jamaican heritage and demonstrate its connections to the various places in Africa and other regions from which Jamaicans are descended. Additionally, in a society where our traditions are ritualized, it is important to document, collect, store and preserve to allow them to weather the passage of time and the passing of our knowledge holders.
Moreover, recordings serve as our memories and tell the stories that constitute our cultural heritage. The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica / Jamaica Memory Bank has assembled an extensive audiovisual heritage cultural collection over the years. Our research has garnered a wealth of information on Jamaica’s folk culture such as storytelling, religious beliefs, traditional craft, in addition to oral history testimonies from our senior citizens.
The result of the library’s acquisition efforts is an audiovisual collection that includes over 2,000 sound recordings, 800 video recordings and 4,000 photographs.
Sound recording collection: The main series in the sound recording collection is the Jamaica Memory Bank collection. This involves the documenting of aspects of Jamaica’s social and cultural history from interviews with senior citizens.
Video collection: The video collection has information highlighting most aspects of Jamaican folklore. These include the Maroons, Ettu and Nago, Kumina, Revivalism craftwork and Reggae among others.
Photograph collection: This is a collection of photographs highlighting people, places and products of Jamaica’s intangible cultural heritage.
Of special note are some of the early recordings done by Dr. Olive Lewin OD OM – that relate to music, religion, language and foodways. The audio-visual collection examines traditions such as Kumina, Kromanti, Ettu, Nago, Mbele, Gerreh and Reggae. It also includes Memory Bank interviews that were collected in Costa Rica in the 1980s and Lagos, Nigeria in the 1990s that established cultural linkages. Complementing the audio-visual collection of the library is a collection of over 7000 books, pamphlets and journals as well as nearly 5000 newspaper clippings.