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A Good Year to be Black and Digital

“Maritcha Lyons as a school girl,” Black Gotham Archive, accessed August 23, 2012,

If summer sun and sandy beaches (or shadowy archives in faraway places) kept you away from the internet all summer, you may have missed the unveiling of some exciting digital humanities projects.  I’m sharing two of my favorites below.

As projects created by powerhouse scholars in the field of African American history and study, and in collaboration with well-known #DH institutions, each deliberately bridges the gap between African American life and history and digital humanities. And by supplementing published or soon to be published book-length studies, each also pushes the boundaries on what we can expect from academic texts.

From the release:

“The View Share website, constructed from new research, tracks geographic locations of 200 African Americans who traveled internationally and who recorded their journeys in an autobiography. Travelers range from Ida B. Wells and Henry ‘Box’ Brown, to Anna Julia Cooper and W. E. B. Du Bois, to Billie Holiday and Richard Pryor, to Mae Jemison and Ben Carson.

“Locations include Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, an North/Latin America.

“This online resource will be accompanied by a forthcoming book, Swag Diplomacy: Using 200 Black Travel Memoirs as Mentoring Guides for Youth Empowerment (expected 2013).”

For more details on the project, read this review by the brilliant Moya Z. Bailey. Using skills learned at THATCamp CHNM, Bailey worked with Evans to make the project happen.

The Black Gotham Archive draws from Peterson’s research for her book Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.

From Peterson’s blog:

“Currently, they’re [the archive’s] made up of five exhibits: an introduction to my family; a short tour of some early Lower Manhattan sites; profiles of two African Free Schools of the 1820s and 1830s; portraits of men of the black elite at mid-century; and accounts of the fate of black New Yorkers during the 1863 draft riots. Each exhibit contains a series of pages that describe people and events; show images you can click on for more detailed information; provide direct links to documents culled from the archives—obituaries, newspaper articles, etc.—where nineteenth-century voices truly come to life, as well as links to online primary and secondary book sources. In addition to the exhibits, there’s also an archive you can browse for many more images and information about them.”

Read the rest here.  The Black Gotham Archive was created while Peterson was a fellow at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH).  Black Gotham (the book) is also a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Prize.

And last night,  Twitter declared that the new season of Left of Black premieres on September 17th.  You can subscribe via YouTube, iTunes, and iTunes U.  There are only a few podcasts I’d assign to students and ask them to tune in each week. This is one of them.

There are more projects waiting in the wings, but I already have a feeling this is going to be a very good (academic) year for Black Studies & History x Digital Humanities.