Western Hemisphere Slave Project
The Western Hemisphere Slave Project will enable scholars and students from all educational levels to explore the lives of slaves across the Western Hemisphere. It is envisioned as a joint collaboration between two pre-existing digital humanities projects: The Digital Library on American Slavery and the Western Hemisphere Slave Database developed from Gwendolyn Hall’s Databases for the Study of Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1699-1860: Computerized Information from Original Manuscript Sources, which was released in 2000 by the Center for the Public Domain and Ibiblio.org. It relied on Hall’s technical work using Powerbase software, then dBASE for DOS and a CD writer and concentrated on slave diasporas in France, Spain, Latin America, and the United States. There have been vast changes in informatics and computer technology during the decade since the Database was completed and an explosion of primary materials that have overwhelmed the initial project. Integrating these materials across linguistic and format boundaries in an easily searchable index will be of utmost importance. The Digital Library on American Slavery will be the final phase of the Race and Slavery Petitions Project. Since 1993, the Project has maintained a database of Petition Analysis Records (PARs) for every document in the collection. PARs include a broad range of information including salutations, names of petitioners and defendants, abstracts, subjects, related documents, petition results, a total of forty-two separate variables. There is no current publication, electronic or otherwise, that includes both the names of slaves and their owners. In cooperation with University of North Carolina-Greensboro’s Jackson Library, the Project now seeks to enhance the data on African Americans and make the entire database-including information on perhaps 150,000 individuals, including 35,000 petitioners, 25,000 defendants, 80,000 slaves, and 10,000 free persons of color-readily available to the public through a searchable, web-based Digital Library on American Slavery.
I-CHASS is posed to construct a second-stage project, an intuitive website with enhanced analytical abilities to cross-reference and cross-collaborate the data generated by these two projects. By creating one open-access expandable platform, I-CHASS will allow for a flexible interface that enables scholars and students at all levels to acquire and participate in the research project. Importantly, this will create a more user-friendly and comprehensive approach to slavery in the Western Hemisphere.