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Key words: 'freedom on the move' (this phrase)
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HAA-256102-17

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY 14853-2801)
Edward E. Baptist (Project Director: January 2017 to present)
William C. Block (Co Project Director: May 2017 to present)

Freedom on the Move: Advancing a Crowdsourced, Comprehensive Database of North American Runaway Slave Advertisements

Implementation of Freedom on the Move, a public history resource that will offer a unified access point to 100,000 runaway slave advertisements published in American newspapers through the end of the Civil War. In addition, the project will develop tools for students to engage with primary sources by transcribing the advertisements.

“Freedom on the Move” (FOTM) creates a digital resource from an estimated 100,000 runaway slave advertisements from pre-1865 U.S. newspapers. These ads, placed by enslavers when enslaved people attempted to escape, comprise one of the richest sources of information about enslaved individuals in United States history. The FOTM database, which will be freely available for browsing and research, is the first comprehensive collection of these ads. Using crowdsourcing to parse ad data into a database, FOTM enables new research analyses of the history of U.S. slavery. The prototype interface is already built. We seek funds to complete FOTM as a site for public engagement that supports lessons for K-12, university, and museum education. NEH implementation funding will enable us to build tools for analyzing and visualizing data, managing student interaction, engaging the public, and establishing a prototype for future digital resources.

Project fields:
African American History; Women's History

Program:
Digital Humanities Advancement Grants

Division:
Digital Humanities

Total amounts:
$374,581 (approved)
$324,581 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 9/30/2020


HD-229031-15

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY 14853-2801)
Edward E. Baptist (Project Director: September 2014 to present)
William C. Block (Co Project Director: March 2015 to present)

Freedom on the Move: A Crowdsourced, Comprehensive Database of North American Runaway Slave Advertisements

The further design and development of a database of runaway slave advertisements from pre-1865 US newspapers drawing from several historical collections.  The project would also experiment with crowdsourcing approaches to enrich the database records.

'Freedom on the Move' (FOTM) creates a digital resource from an estimated 100,000 runaway slave advertisements from pre-1865 U.S. newspapers. Placed by enslavers when enslaved people attempted to escape, these ads included extensive information about fugitives. They comprise the richest source of information about enslaved individuals in the United States, yet no comprehensive collection of them exists. FOTM will collect these ads and use crowdsourcing to parse their data into a database, enabling sophisticated new analyses of the history of U.S. slavery. A crowdsourcing interface will provide a site for public engagement with an enduring national trauma, supporting lessons for K-12, university, and museum education. The database will be freely available for browsing and exportable for research. NEH start-up funding will enable us to build tools for incorporating large-scale data from contributors, creating a prototype for future expansions of this and similar digital resources.

[White paper]

Project fields:
African American History; U.S. History

Program:
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

Division:
Digital Humanities

Total amounts:
$59,989 (approved)
$51,622 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2015 – 8/31/2016