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  1. Hello Everyone! I know it's been a while since I've posted a blog entry. Teaching five classes last semester did not leave me with much time to explore new resources. I just learned about a new resource today that I think will be useful to a wide variety of historians. British universities have been working very hard to tell the story of race and slavery in the UK, and we have a new resource to go along with some of those already featured on this site such as the Legacies of British Slave Ownership Database. This latest resource is the Runaway Slaves in Britain database. This project explores a variety of English and Scottish newspapers and then cataloged and digitized escaped slave advertisements. Runaway Slaves goes a long way towards telling the story of slavery in Britain from 1700-1780 (before the major era of abolition). This will be a very important resource for all those interested in slavery and the British Atlantic World in the 18th century.
  2. The National Endowment for the Humanities has just launched a brand new website called "NEH For All." This is a detailed collection of all projects using NEH grants across the country demonstrating just how valuable this organization is for the humanities in the United States. It is well worth some time exploring the fascinating programs benefitting from these grants. The site allows you to search by state or by type of program. Go visit their site today to see how the NEH supports cultural programs in your state!
  3. Hello, Everyone, The semester is in full swing, and I am sure that like me you are extremely busy. I thought I would take a minute to talk about a recent assignment I assigned my students utilizing a digital humanities project. This is also a request for others to share their experiences using digital humanities to get students engaged in our fields. Briefly, I recently asked my students to use the Slave Voyages website. I assigned them a particular ship, which in this case was one that left from Boston, Massachusetts. They were then asked to compare and contrast this ship to others from roughly the same period answering the question "Was the voyage of the Neptune indicative of the slave trade as a whole?" This was intentionally open-ended to allow them to pursue their investigation in any way they saw fit. The results were pretty mixed. Many students felt that the assignment needed more structure, or they found the database confusing. Oftentimes, they became frustrated by the lack of information available. After some reflection, I think that this assignment is useful but requires a lot more preparatory work before setting students loose in the database. So, I am curious. Have any of you ever had an assignment that you thought would be really great, and it ended up not working out quite as well as you expected? I am curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
  4. Hello, Everyone! A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook the other day about obscure Medieval texts which have been translated and posted online as part of Stanford's Global Medieval Sourcebook. As I am teaching a section of History of Civilization to 1500 this semester it immediately caught my attention. What is really exciting about this project is its attempt to offer a global perspective. This first release has material from China to France. The images alone are fantastic! It is also a collaborative project that seeks to have scholars help supply context to the documents. If you are interested, check out the project here. Let me know what you think about this new resource in the comments below. We will be adding a full review of this new resource in the near future!
  5. I am going to call this a preliminary review because I visited very soon after the museum reopened after a multi-year £20 million renovation, and it was clear that there were still some kinks to figure out. The museum itself is essentially brand new, and if you are a military history buff absolutely worth a visit in itself. I am going to confine my comments to my interactions with the Templar Study Center, the archival portion of the museum. First, the staff at the Templar study center are extremely helpful even those who are volunteers. The primary archivist is intimately aware of the materials the museum holds, and I found him really open to my project and research. I was really pleased with every interaction with the employees here. Location: The museum is located right by the historic Chelsea Hospital for military veterans. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from Sloane Square Tube stop, and it is easily accessible via bus if you do not want to walk. The Templar Study Center is well lit, even though it is located in the basement of the building. There is a sky light that lets lots of light into the room. The seating is limited, so it would be best if you email ahead of time to reserve space. I got lucky and was able to just walk in, but I would not count on that in the future as more people become aware of the museum. What to Know: The online catalog is not very helpful. This is a military museum, and they do not have much mention of gender/sexuality. For example, I was looking through an officer's personal papers and discovered a trove of correspondence written by his wife. There was no mention of this in the archive's catalogs. The system for requesting documents is still a bit old-school. You have to fill out a separate request form for each document, which a volunteer will then go try to find. Despite being recently reopened, there are still a number of items that I requested which did not exist or could not be found. The staff is rather slow to respond to emails. This poses a difficult challenge for international researchers. This is something that I feel will improve with time, but for now be sure that you give them at least a month to respond to your emails. It is important to note that I do believe that these issues will improve with time. The staff was extremely helpful, and I strongly recommend this archive for anyone interested in the history of the British Army. It is an invaluable resource.
  6. It has been a while since I have blogged for this site. The spring semester got crazy, and then I spent quite a bit of my summer visiting archives and working on research projects. I spent two weeks at the end of May working in the National Army Museum archive in London and back at the British Library. I wanted to take a quick moment to encourage you all to provide a review for any archives you may have visited recently. In other news, I am preparing two new classes for the Fall semester, so I will be adding more US focused digital archives over the next couple of months. I hope you have had a productive summer filled with research and writing, or just relaxation. Please contact us for information about contributing to the site!
  7. It's been a while since I have uploaded a new blog entry. To be honest, I got totally swamped by the semester. I had the opportunity to teach a U.S. History survey class this semester that focused on the end of Reconstruction to the present. One of the unifying themes that my students and I have discussed is the use of racial violence to support white supremacy in the United States from the end of Reconstruction to the present. At times, this has been an emotional and fraught experience. I recently came across an article in the Smithsonian Magazine that talked about a new digital history project that maps every incident of racial violence or lynchings from 1877 to the present nationwide. It provides details about every lynching recorded. This is an amazing resource, and I cannot wait to share it with my students soon. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment below. Please feel free to contribute your own tips, hints, or resources in a blog entry on this site!
  8. Between 1900 and 1960, Reno, Nevada served as the divorce capital of the world. This new website seeks to make the history of divorce in Reno more accessible to the public and scholars. This new site provides a glimpse into the variety of divorce cases, both everyday citizens and celebrities, who utilized Nevada's relaxed divorce laws during this period to dissolve their marriages. The database contains hundreds of digitized images, publications, documents, and media. What to Know: The search feature is quite flexible. You can search by theme, decade, format, or keyword. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in gender/sexuality, marriage and the family, legal, and political history.
  9. The Spectator first emerged in 1828 promising to "convey intelligence." This archive contains digitized copies of every edition of the newspaper from 1828 to 2008. The Spectator represents an extremely important source for political and cultural information regarding Britain and its colonies. There are two key ways to use the database. First, you can browse by issue if you are looking for a specific date. This is great for providing context. Secondly, you can search the database by keyword, topic, location, or date. The search feature is really quite good with this project. What to Know: Some of the transcriptions are not extremely accurate. Wherever possible, it is much better to actually view the scanned pages. The search feature is really useful, and it seems to do a good job of keeping results fairly accurate.
  10. From 1830 until well after the American Civil War, Free Blacks and Fugitive slaves met in state and national "conventions" to discuss important issues such as education, labor, and legal justice. This new Digital Humanities project seeks to understand the social worlds and collective organizing potential of these conventions. While the delegations were overwhelmingly male, this project also seeks to recover black women's participation and voice. This is an ongoing project, and the developers are actively seeking assistance in transcribing session minutes and other documentation. Perhaps most useful for many of us who teach are the really useful teaching guides included on the website. What to know: This is an ongoing project, so there are areas of the site that seem incomplete at the moment. The search function is limited, but I found it very easy to browse the site.
  11. I hope everyone has had a great holiday season! I've spent a significant part of the break continuing to look for new digital history projects that we can discuss here at Research Freedom. I am also preparing to teach two new classes this spring, so I have been really interested in new potential teaching tools. This is where Histography comes in. It's a new interactive historical timeline, where every dot represents a significant moment in world history. The great thing about this is that it allows you to access the Wikipedia page for additional information. I also really like the "Editorial Stories" part of the site. This provides access to videos, the Wikipedia page, and related resources. This is a more in-depth discussion of the topics. I think that this will be a great way for students to visualize history, and I am looking forward to showing my classes this Spring. Check out Histography for yourself. Let me know what you think below.
  12. The Liberated Africans Project explores what happened to 200,000 emancipated Africans as a part of the international movement to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The really interesting thing about this project is that it is extremely collaborative. One of the major issues with researching this topic has been that the information is spread in archives across the world and in multiple languages. The key source material for this project are the Vice Admiralty Courts. These courts handled all of the cases where the British Navy seized slave ships off the coast of Africa. This site is currently under development, but it will eventually have thousands of records from Cuba, Brazil, and Sierra Leone. Aside from the Vice Admiralty Courts, the site also contains an image library that is really useful. This is a great teaching resource. Image Credit: The Liberated Africans Project See our resource review here.
  13. I came across this really interesting new Digital Humanities project called HistoryQuest DC the other day. It is an interactive GIS map that provides historic data on over 127,000 buildings. I think what I like the most about this project are the multiple layers of data available with the click of a button. It contains information on historic neighborhoods, allows you to trace the development of the city from the 1790s until now, and even lets you look at DC as L'Enfant planned it in the 1790s. The project has its beginning with the DC Historic Buildings Permit database. According to the creators, this database provided 85% of the data used to create the maps. However, this is chronologically limited. The office issued its first permit in 1877 and ended operations in 1949. This is a project in development, and as such it will continue to become even more impressive over the next few years. Check out the project here.
  14. The British abolished the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1807, and in 1808 they seized the colony of Sierra Leone from a company and placed it under state authority in the form of a Vice Admiralty Court. The Vice Admiralty Courts and the British Navy would spend the next six decades patrolling the coast of Africa and seizing illegally captured Africans. In total, the courts would oversee the emancipation of over 200,000 Africans. The Vice Admiralty Courts documents provide a unique lens into the lives and experiences of the enslaved and emancipated. However, they are scattered in numerous archives (throughout multiple countries) and they are often in numerous languages. This meant that it became extraordinarily difficult for one historian to make sense of everything. This is where the Liberated Africans Project comes into play. This is a collaborative project. The aim of the project is to bring together as much data as possible about the 200,000 emancipated persons. What to Know: This is an ongoing project and at this point is a bit limited. Over time, this should become an extraordinarily useful and important project. It should be used in conjunction with the Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network, and the Ecclesiastical & Secular Sources for Slave Societies database.
  15. There's a really fascinating article in the Washington Post Lifestyle section about the history of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. from its original plan in 1791 to today. While this is not really "research" focused, it does make for an interesting discussion on public engagement and the use of digital sources to tell stories. The use of maps, though modern, shows how the mall transformed over the past 225 years. The article demonstrates the many ways in which public pressure has resulted in the configuration of the Mall. It is the most sought after space in Washington, D.C. with various interest groups seeking to open their own museums/monuments to key figures. We've seen this over the last couple of decades as women seek to get permission and funds to build the Women's History Museum. There is also a significant move towards opening a Latin American history museum on the Mall. In 2003, Congress essentially called the project of the National Mall complete. Yet, we saw the opening of the African American History and Culture museum this year, and there is a new reception space opening by the Vietnam War memorial this year. The National Mall represents one of the most important public spaces in the United States. It has been the site of the most important protests and rallies in our recent history from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech to the Million-Man March. This space has a fascinating history. Check out the article here.