Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2014 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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The Texas Runaway Slave Project
Kyle Ainsworth

Last modified: 2014-03-13


The Texas Runaway Slave Project (TRSP) at the East Texas Research Center, Ralph W. Steen Library (http://digital.sfasu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/RSP) is a digital collection of extant runaway slave advertisements, articles and capture notices from surviving Texas newspapers published through 1865. Launched October 1, 2013, the collection currently features over 225 runaway slaves. These come from the review of 1,610 issues in 40 newspaper collections. Working with a research estimate of 10,000 available digitized, microfilmed and original pre-1865 Texas newspapers, the TRSP collection is expected to document 1,500 to 1,600 runaway slaves when finished.

The presentation will cover some of the unique aspects that make the project very dynamic:

1. User Access: This project is ongoing. Instead of waiting for a complete dataset, the team decided to get the research thus far collected out and available to users.

2. Metadata: The TRSP displays up to 37 searchable fields, four Google maps, as well as an image and transcript for each document. This level of description and geographical mapping is an improvement on the four existing runaway slave project websites.[1]

3. ContentDM: The TRSP innovatively uses this software to give full access to object and item-level metadata. Compound objects (JPEG images of advertisements and PDF documents of the transcript) provide visitors with a user-friendly interface.

4. Webpage Design: Created with only 60 hours of labor, the webpage is minimalist but highly functional for both the casual student and the research scholar.

5. Labor: For so much output, the project still only consists of the project and content managers. An $18,000 grant request under review would provide six student assistants for two months of digital research.

6. Future Applications: Portraits of Freedom is an idea by the Project Manager to create an art exhibit featuring work by SFASU students and faculty drawn from the detailed runaway slave advertisements aggregated by the TRSP. The exhibit might include, but is not limited to, works of painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and art metal. If the project goes forward, it would debut in time for the Sesquicentennial (150 years) of the end of the Civil War.

[1] David Gwynn, North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements, 1751-1840 [2012], UNC-Greensboro, online at http://libcdm1.uncg.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/RAS, c.2,400 runaways; Tom Costa, The Geography of Slavery in Virginia [2005], University of Virginia, online at http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/gos/, c.4,000 advertisements; Douglas Chambers and Max Grivno, Documenting Runaway Slaves [2013], University of Southern Mississippi, online at http://aquila.usm.edu/drs/, c.10,500 runaways; and Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec, Marronage in Saint-Domingue (Haiti): History, Memory, Technology [2010], Universite de Sherbrooke, online at http://www.marronnage.info/en/, 14,867 slaves.


Digital Archives; ContentDM; Slavery

Full Text: Slideshow