Quick Update: Public Humanities Project: Boston Middle Passage

NB: this also cross-posted on my HASTAC page.

I am excited to announce that the National Park Service's Boston African American Historic Site is currently featuring the website I co-author/edit, BostonMiddlePassage.org


From BostonMiddlePassage.org:

On August 23, 2015, a ceremony recognizing Boston as a Middle Passage port site will take place. This event is part of a larger effort by the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP), an international, grassroots organization dedicated to commemorating the more than 2 million people who perished in the Middle Passage of the transatlantic human trade and the 10 million who survived. Partnering with historical and cultural societies, academic institutions, churches, visitor and tourist bureaus, and community organizations, the MPCPMP’s aim is to research, identify, and facilitate remembrance ceremonies at all ports of captive Africans’ entry during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The August 23, 2015 Boston ceremony acknowledges the city as a port receiving enslaved people who survived the international slave trade, as well as the vital role that Africans and their descendants played in the development of both the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the United States.

This website is meant to serve not just as a means of publicizing the August event, but also as a developing resource for information on the role of the Middle Passage and slavery in shaping Colonial New England's history.

Maps and Timelines: Half Project Update, Half Review

This post, as the rather functional title implies, is partly an update on a current works-in-progress, but really more a discussion of some of the tools I have been using, particularly the Storymap and Timeline from Northwestern University’s Knight Lab. It is working well for my current projects, and I would like to try it out in a class. It has enough out of the box functionality that students could use it with little training, its use of Google Drive tools lends itself to group projects, and the code is open source, so that more advanced students can tinker, tweak, and customize it.

What I love most about it, though, is that it does not seem to be designed with students or academics as its main audience. Especially in the case of the timeline, these are story telling tools aimed at newspapers and other mainstream sources bringing information to the general public.

This made it an ideal candidate for a website I am building for the Boston Middle Passage Port Marker Ceremony this August. The Port Marker Ceremony is part of an international grassroots project to place markers at every Middle Passage port site as a way of making the history of chattel slavery more visible and accessible to the public. Boston will be the first New England site to have both a marker and a ceremony, raising awareness of the role of the slave trade and enslaved labor in the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony; in the economic, legal, and social development of the region and nation; as well as how this story of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Boston connects to a global history that carries into the present day.

The goal of the site is to both advertise the event and serve as a resource afterwards. The site itself is under construction, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some of the features being built.

Knight lab Timeline JS

I found this tool because I loved the timeline WBUR created for the Whitey Bulger trial. I especially liked how the title page could come from anywhere within the chronology, and I loved that you could browse ahead of your current entry with the overview at the bottom of the page. 

It works from a Google spreadsheet, and as long as you do not change the top two rows, you can add a date anywhere in the spreadsheet and it will appear in the correct order. Publishing the spreadsheet results in a nice little embed code, which works well on Wordpress (there's even a plugin), less so on Squarespace. 

In Squarespace, I tried the iframe embed code, inline code, adding script to the header, and nothing. Click here to see the current version of the timeline. 

 Knight Lab StoryMap JS

Because of my infatuation with the timeline, I browsed through other digital tools and came across the StoryMap JS. The final version of the site will eventually have multiple maps, but the first one I wanted to build was based on Boston locations already featured the National Park Services walking tours (which already has a wonderful app).

Click here to see the current version of the map.

This tool fit many of the requirements I had for this first map. Given that I am also partly working on research and content for the site, on other committees related to the event, have other research projects not related to this event, am on the job market, and think that sleep is a necessary and wonderful part of each day, I did not code this from the ground up or spend a lot of time experimenting the layout.

Alternative Option 1: Google Maps

With this in mind, I first turned to Google. The few past posts on this site show that I have a soft spot for Google Fusion (see my post on Mary Prince, Olaudah Equiano, or Jane Austen)Google Developer also has some nice APIs for their maps, including customizability, which I am using for the directions to the event. But a much of my preferences for a tool involved how I wanted it to look. 

There are many examples of CSS boilerplate out there for altering a Google Map. Google has its own instructions, and CodyHouse has one of my favorite examples using CSS and jQuery. I did play around with the latter option, and it helped me determine the key factors I was looking for in a digital tool.

  • As someone working on research and content, not just the design of the site, I wanted an out of the box needed to easily set up, shared, and expanded upon.
  • As this there are other people working on content, I wanted it to be fairly intuitive to use, requiring little to no training.  
  • I wanted it to be interactive, and for that interactivity to be easy to modify by all contributors.
  • I wanted it to be pretty.

By “pretty” I envisioned something very like Stamen Design's Toner maps.

Google ticks the “pretty” box, but I found customizing appearances often did not mesh as well as I wanted with making it a collaborative tool. One of the features I like about the Knight Lab map is that the order of locations is easy to change, and for the user, ignore. It is built around the idea of moving through a spatial narrative, which makes sense if your goal is to mirror the experience of a historic walking tour.

Alternative Option 2: Omeka and Neatline

Of course, when you describe my goals that way, it sounds a lot like a job for Omeka’s map tool Neatline. Omeka is a web-publishing platform from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. You add entries that work as objects to be curated on the site. The nature of the object varies greatly: this could be the metadata for a museum object with the site creating a digital gallery or it could be entries of individuals in a database. One of the features that makes Omeka so attractive is that by entering information for an object, you are creating a database of objects that can be exported into other programs.

Neatline is an Omeka plugin that allows you to make annotated maps centered on a narrative structure. One of my favorite projects using this tool is Northeastern University's Our Marathon, which documents oral histories of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.

Choosing Omeka, though, I think depends less on your audience and more on the team creating the content. If this were a purely academic project based around building an archive of objects with the analysis of those objects also being displayed on the site, Omeka is a strong candidate. But for this project, the focus is less on housing an on-going research project than on creating a resource around an upcoming event.

Knight Lab’s StoryMap also offered the inducement of working easily with Wordpress.org. Tom Scheinfeldt has an excellent post comparing Omeka to Wordpress and other alternatives, and there are a lot of good reasons to use it. For me the deciding factor was that my preferences for Omeka only came after multiple presentations, THATCamp breakout sessions, and a day-long workshop. I am confident using it, but I am not the only using this site. Almost all the other contributors were familiar with Wordpress, which I think is easier to use. Telling others who are volunteering their time on a project that is not listed in the main duties of their position to learn a new content management system seemed like an arbitrary exercise in ego. This site might not always be my baby, and it needed to simple for others to maintain or migrate. Wordpress was simply the more sustainable option. 


These two tools from Knight Lab are really user friendly, and their code is on github, so you can customize it more to fit your needs (which will probably happen eventually).

I am concerned though with loading speed. Once up, the map and timeline work great, but on some spotty wifi it was problematic. An alternative would be to build a cleaner, less complicated timeline. Yale's Center for British Art's interactive site on Slavery and Portraiture in 18th-Century Atlantic Britain is a great model. 

The timeline is also an iframe embed, which is bad for search engines, and proving very finicky on non-Wordpress sites. A simple fix may just put the script in the site rather than link to another source with the iframe.

But overall, I prefer this option. It is with an established DH center, so it should be maintained. If not, the Timeline is easily transferable into forms of php and sql. The map would probably be harder to transfer, but as both of the tools save your data to your Google Drive, as long as you are happy with the dystopia that is Google privacy, you should be fine. I like that we can customize it if necessary and perhaps more importantly, there is little chance of me messing it up aesthetically with poor taste decisions. As someone who started using computers in the 80s and the internet in the 90s, I was initiated into very ugly digital aesthetics. I have almost completely recovered from those dark days (no more frames!), but at some level, I am still the eight year old that thought a Goldenrod background with LimeGreen font was a good display choice to reset my parents' computers at work. 


Boeri, David. “Whitey Bulger TimelineWBUR: Bulger on Trial.  11 November 2013.  Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

CHMN. Omkea.org. George Mason University. Web. Access date 9 December 2014.

Cody House. “Custom Google Map.” CodyHouse.co. 18 June 2014. Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

Google Developers. “Customizing Google Maps: Styling the Base Map.” Google Developers. 7 October 2014. Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

 Knight Lab. StoryMap JS.Northwestern University. WebAccess Date: 25 November 2014. 

---------. Timeline JS. Northwestern University. WebAccess Date: 25 November 2014. 

NULab, WBUR, et al. Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive & WBUR Oral History Project. Northeastern University. Web. Access date 9 December 2014.

Scheinfeldt, Tom. "Omeka and Its Peers." Omkea.org. 21 September 2010Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

------. FoundHistory.org  Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

Scholars’ Lab. Neatline.org. University of Virginia Library. Web. Access date 9 December 2014.

StamenTonerCityTracking.Web. Access Date: 25 November 2014. 

Yale Center For British Art. “TimelineSlavery And Portraiture In 18th-Century Atlantic Britain. YCBA. Web. Access date 9 December 2014.



Mapping The History of Mary Prince

Working with The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831), I am continuously struck by the extent Prince travels in the narrative, even before she arrives in London. Beginning in Bermuda, moving to the Turks and Caricos Island, back to Bermuda, then Antigua, and finally England, the text covers a wide swath of the Atlantic World. This a distance of approximately 11,035 kilometers (6,856.83 miles). To give some perspective, traveling due East from New York City, United States across the Atlantic Ocean and Europe to Tokyo, Japan is 10,849 kilometers (6,741 miles). Her ability to maintain and create new social networks covering such a large geographic space fascinates me, leading to the question of how best to represent this feature in my writing.

       (Composite Map of) A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto. by Henry Popple. 1746 via David Rumsey Historical Maps


(Composite Map of) A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto. by Henry Popple. 1746 via David Rumsey Historical Maps

Historical maps (though the one above is a century too early). This, too, holds its challenges, since Bermuda is latitudinally closer to the Carolinas than to the Caribbean. As a result, I come across several maps where Bermuda is included through an aside, erasing a sense of the actual distance. I haven't really found the right historical map yet (although at a recent conference, someone had a wonderful Atlantic map, that I think will work including Britain without making the scale to large.)  Another option is to use the line drawing option on maps through Neatline in Omeka, but I'm wary of how well this will work in a large scale map. 

Google was useful for figuring out distances, and as I am working out locations within islands, planting markers as estimates of locations is useful. I also worked on trying to estimate where she traveled in Bermuda. I am also experimenting with warping historical maps onto Google.  Here's an screenshot from Google Earth.

But what I also wanted to map was her relationships between spaces of family, owner households, and other social connections. In other parts of this project, I am working on tracing the network of The History as a non-human object, as well as visualizing the print history of its first three editions. But I am also fascinating with how Prince, like Olaudah Equiano [link], possesses a history very unlike the experience of most Atlantic World slaves, whom she is meant to represent to her abolitionist readers. Ironically, while she is presented as a model of a universal experience, the biographical details reveals in The History are singular and align with why she is one of the few enslaved women from her era—-and arguably any other—-to have her individual history published. As Moira Ferguson points out in her edition of The History, “most slaves had only one or two owners in a lifetime, whereas Mary Prince had five before she freed herself” (7). More extraordinarily, she frequently negotiated her own sale to new owners, pointing to the value of her labor, both in terms of the multiple jobs she could perform for an owner, as well as their ability to rent out her labor to others for a profit. In each new household she enters, she consistently forms new networks that often extend beyond her position as a chattel slave. She is born into a familial group that transcend owner households. Her mother is owned by a Mr. Charles Myners in Brackish-Pond Bermuda and her father by a shipbuilder, Mr. Trimmingham, for whom he works as a sawyer. That Mary Prince carries her father’s name, not her owners’ is significant, as is the relationship she maintains with her father throughout her time on Bermuda. When Myners dies, she, her mother, and sisters are sold to Captian Darrel Williams who gifts Prince to his granddaughter Betsey. Although Prince bonds with her young owner as a child, the experience illustrates how an enslaved woman cannot rely on her owners household for protection and support, even when there are affective bonds between owner and slave. When Betsey’s father sells her, he usurps the “rights” of his daughter from his first familial network to pay for the wedding to create a new one, disregarding old familial connections in order to forge new ones. As difficult as I find it to sympathize with The History’s portrayal of  Betsy’s “rights” over another person, this scene emphasizes the multiple disruptions her father’s marriage creates. Mary’s family is split up and sold. Her sisters are not heard of again in the narrative, though she is able to stay in contact with her parents.

The slave market scene, with the tragic separation of mothers from young children, the editor Pringle points out, echoes similar stories from other sales around the Atlantic. Certainly British abolitionist readers would have recognized this scene from those they read and collected in their albums.  But what happens after her sale to Captain I. differs from those narratives filled with images of passive victims looking to heavens for help to arrive, perhaps from a good middle-class woman from a Birmingham anti-slavery society. Her future is certainly shaped by the particular social relationships she formed with the Williams. She bonded with her biological family, as well as the women of the Williams family, but more importantly, she had experience using her labor to create relationships outside of the household. Rented out to work for a Mrs. Pruden, Prince must have learned to work with those outside of her immediate circles, by moving five miles away (think of how far this is to walk) in the next parish. When she is sold to the Ingrahms at Spanish Point, she understands her new owners’ cruelty through their treatment of the old French slave Hetty and two young boys. When Hetty’s death leads to Prince taking up the abused woman’s work, she describes less the physical violence she experiences, but her expectation of it through her knowledge of Hetty’s experiences. To escape this, she fleas back to her parents, where her mother hides her in a cavern until her father returns her to her owners. Note here that Prince’s familial network is still accessible to her, but ultimately provides no permanent protection.

When we look at Bermuda human actors by status, there are clear separations (Network 1). 

The next network looks a kinship networks, which again is disconnected.

But when we look at household (owners, children, enslaved), the network becomes more centered on Mary Prince, with her father disconnected from her network nodes.


Her next sale breaks the limited effectiveness of those familial connections when she is sold to Mr. D who takes her to Turks Island (approximately 1371.85kilometers, 852.43 miles away, roughly the distance from New York to Birmingham; to give a bit of perspective, later in the century Harriet Tubman would bring people from slavery in her home state of Maryland roughly only 500 miles north to her head quarters in St. Catherine’s Canada as a means of feeling safe from the Fugitive slaves act).

Even when she does see her mother on the island (76), her mother with a new daughter in hand, temporally “lost her senses” as she “had never been on the sea before.” On Turk’s Island, Prince lacks a network, in part it seems to the hard labor she is put through, as well as to the lack of a population there with which to create a network. In these scenes she turns to the English reader as a new network for these spaces (74). (This will be expanded upon in another post).

Within the narrative this foreshadows how her religious networks will allow her to leave the Woods when they travel to London, and reflects back onto the network that produced the pamphlet. To their surprise, despite severing her from a community she knows through personal interactions, she is still able to access her Antigua networks through the Moravian church. This allows her to leave their service, with The History acting as both the first abolitionist slave narrative in English dictated by an Black colonial woman as well as a sign of her voice in a new network: the Anti-Slavery Society.

What I am playing with now is a spatial and human network. I'm including places such as Turk's Island, but also the cavern on Bermuda where Mary Prince meets with her parents after running away. In this rough draft, countries are not their own nodes, and are listed more often than needed. I'm also including organizations, such as abolitionist and religious organizations. In csv for UCInet, I'm working on how to mark the different actor categories. 


Prince’s ability to create new networks is a unique skill that sets her apart, even from her family members. Pringle points out in a footnote that unlike Prince’s ability to keep in contact with her father when with the Ingrahms, her father “had been long dead and buried before any of his children in Bermuda knew of it.” Her mother died shortly after her last sale to the Woods in Antigua, and of her “seven brothers and three sisters, she knows nothing further than this - that the eldest sister, who had several children to her master, was taken to him to Trinidad; and that the youngest, Rebecca [whom she met when her mother went to Turk’s Island], is still alive [as of 1831], and still in slavery in Bermuda” (76). Yet, some contact was still kept.

When we think of her past with networks, her ability to move into new communities and find allies, and her record of turning her enslaved labor into a tradable skill, is it so hard to imagine that she also used this in London. Her authorial authority may not fit the conventional models, relying instead on a transcriber and editor to find a public voice in print. Yet, this ability to negotiate a network here ensures her independence from the Woods, her ability to stay in London (albeit away from her husband), and though the reports of her physical deterioration in the second and third editions are presented as pitiable, they are also serving a means to raise funds to support her (an option not available to her in the West Indies). As with her laundry, her agency with The History is not one of the free liberal subject found in Enlightenment philosophies of individual sovereignty. This model, though, was able to sustain the systems of power that continued slave systems and other forms of institutional oppression. The model of subaltern agency offered by Sharp better fits the history of Mary Prince and The History bearing her name. 

Although she was meant to represent all slaves, and indeed frequently points to her observations on many islands of many slaves in her appeal to English audiences to end slavery in the colonies, her ability to navigate multiple networks leading to her self-manumission makes her singular. Yet, in other ways, The History illuminates a colonial archive that goes beyond the stories of West Indian slavery or English abolitionist groups. It demonstrates the global networks of an abolitionist movement that went beyond a binary of enslave black colonial and white English abolitionist. For Strickland and Pringle are better described as British than English, representing the complicated way that the rest of the British Isles and wider empire worked to agitate for political change in the governmental center, came into conflict in their shared endeavors, and also fit a wider sense of empire. This is not one empire, with a clear hierarchy offering clear roles and ranks to its subjects. Instead, as The History and its history shows, it is a set of interlocking international networks, in which actors play many—-sometimes contradictory— roles, and where empire could at times unite people in a central cause or set different networks of the ruling class in opposition to one another.  

NB: Notes to be posted later

Imagined Empires in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

There has much debate over the role of plantation slavery in Mansfield Park. It is perhaps the Austen novel that most explicitly points to how agriculture labor in England and Antigua supported the lifestyles of wealthy families like the Bertrams. It also arguably has the most vocal servants, whether it is the groomsman shaming Fanny with his praise of Mary Crawford’s ability to handle a horse or the whispered laughter of maids mocking Fanny’s meager belongings when she first arrives or Lady Bertram's repeated mentions of how sending her Chapman to dress Fanny for the ball resulted in Henry Crawford’s proposal.

When Mary Crawford complains of her harp's arrival being delayed by carts and horses being needed for the harvest, the narrator's critique is clear. But what do we make of the novel's allusions to slave labor in Antiguan fields in the novel? Edward Said famously said that it was an approval of empire, an idealization of the landed gentry. Susan Fraiman responded by pointing to the moral decay in the heart of the titular estate, and countered that the book should be seen as aligning women’s rights with those of slavery. Many, and not exclusively Austen scholars either, have pointed to the problems of conflating the limited property and other legal rights of women possessing a privileged racial, class, and economic status with enslaved men and women in the Atlantic. Kerfoot offers a nuanced description of property ownership through print in her work. Moretti’s famous mapping of the novel argued that the Antigua sections were of little importance, and Austen pointed to a shrinking geographic mindset for the English novel.

I am currently working on an article and eventual chapter for my next book that draws on all four of these scholars, but in particular on the other two. Kerfoot’s careful analysis of Fanny’s relationship to books reminds us of how print networks bound geographically distant people, and though I disagree with Moretti’s argument, his methodology is foundational to my own argument. I believe that Antigua is important within the novel’s construction of a moral empire. It is key to remember that this is a time when Britain is policing the Atlantic Trade. These movements I believe parallel the Mediterranean exploits of Fanny’s brother, William  in Nelson’s navy. Similarly when we look to what Fanny reads, she is interested in British excursions into China. This paper uses network analysis to graph the objects--human and non-human--in Fanny’s white attic, a.k.a. the school room or East Room. In terms of her encounters with people, the scenes that occur her are key moments where Fanny must articulate her ethical and moral beliefs. The non-human connections here bring her into a British empire active in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and East Asia. Interloper figures--such as Mary Crawford or a translation of a German play-- are marked as separate from what she chooses to put into that room.

Here's a rough draft of the networks I'm working on through Google Fusion. The final versions will be analyzed through UCINet and then prettified (yes, that is a technical term), through Pajek. Admittedly, I'll be a bit sad to give up the jiggle of Fusion.

I've organized the above network to move from a place or object in the room to people and locations associated with them. Through  we see Fanny's affective world is filled with imperial markers: a ship in the Mediterranean and the first British embassy to China mix with Geraniums and Wordsworthian images of Romantic landscapes.

Just as in Portsmouth Fanny becomes a “selector and chooser of books” through the circulating library, her curation of connections in her white attic mark Fanny, and I would argue the novel’s, stance on empire. It is a pivotal moment in representations of empire in Austen’s published novels as they shift from the good gentry managing land in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, to a more questionable hierarchy in Mansfield Park, Emma (with its explicit connections of slavery with middle class female labor), and Persuasion.

Related to this is the question of property as identity. One which the title points to: Mansfield and his decisions regarding slavery are well known. What is key to this is how his rulings were never explicitly abolitionist but fully concerned with the legal, moral, and ethical boundaries of property ownership (Ellen Moody recently provided a wonderful overview of scholarship on Lord Mansfield's life and career in her film review of Belle).

Currently, I've organized the article to first connect Fanny and her room to a wider empire; then connect this to discussions of morality in relation to the plot, slavery, and empire; and finally move this to discussion of property as personhood. What I am working on integrating into this is the Mary Crawford and her naval connections.

Contrasting Fanny's more interiorized, abstract imperial world is the external one. This structurally mirrors the way the space of the White Attic contains multiple global networks in that the action of the novel, I argue, centers around the doppelgänger relationship between Fanny and Mary Crawford. Both lack control over their movement due to the lack of financial and familial security. Fanny has limited movements, true, but Mary’s ramblings are dependent on the placement of her family. Both arrive at Mansfield Park because they lack a better alternative. Mary, though, performs better than Fanny. She is the outsider that is instantly accepted, who learns genteel skills with an alacrity Fanny found impossible in the years prior to her double's arrival. There is also the strange, ghostly doubling of Mary with the dead Mary Price, who was Fanny's favorite sister. (Fanny's journey to accepting her sister Susan, who I contend has a few Mary Crawford-ish traits, is a subject for a different post). 

Fanny and Mary mirror each other in other ways, too. The lack of movement for women and the potential meritocracy of the Navy serve as both a critique of a domestic empire of consumption and praise of a global empire of moral reform (i.e., rule). (This is expanded upon in Persuasion, where Admiral Croft and his wife are dual mobile, moral, and in their childless state, free of domestic taint.)Both are related to different levels of the navy (the first through her brother and father, the second through her uncle), but with different views of it. Mary disdains the moral corruption of her Admiral-Uncle’s home. Fanny, despite her drunken, disabled, ex-seaman father, forms a different view through a new generation of the navy: her brother William. William is with a very different Admiral's fleet, Nelson’s in the Mediterranean. Whereas Mary’s uncle and his comrades (with their “rears and vices”) seems stationary, stagnant in London (mirroring Fanny’s low ranked father), William’s is a generation of action. One that cannot be helped by his baronet uncle at Mansfield Park, but by the inspired patriotism of Henry Crawford’s wealth and navel connections.

NB: Proper citations, footnotes, and bibliography coming soon!

Visual Narratives of British Abolitionist Networks

Digital Projects*:

Exotic Domesticities

NB: This was originally posted to this website in March 2014. The Works-in-Progress section was converted to a blog form in October 2014.

Currently, I'm working on a long-term project, “Exotic Domesticities: Labor, Luxury, and Global Slavery in  British Trade.”

Intended as a working version and eventual online supplement to the two book projects, it will serve as an online database of my archival research on trade routes of luxury goods and slaves in the Transatlantic and Mediterranean. In addition to recording data in terms of people, places, books, objects, and money for trade circuits involving slave economies, it currently looks at how information circulated through abolitionist networks. In addition to working papers, it will include maps of networks of individuals and their national imperial counterparts, as well as the imagined networks of domestic fiction and political ideology.

Overall, I am looking at the circulation of ideas and objects in relationship to global slavery in the long 18th-century. Eventually, the project will trace how as the British exit Atlantic slave routes they tangentially enter into the Ottoman ones. Currently there are two sources I'm using to create the datasets. The first emerged from working with trade documents at the Clements library. I'm slowly taking my transcriptions from there and tagging them in XML, though choosing which tags is something I'm still sorting out. At this point, I think I can map some of the connections, though a deeper analysis requires more sources transcribed and tagged than I have a present. At least one return trip to Ann Arbor will be necessary, although I am also looking at other libraries and archives as potential sources.

The second source are the representation of people, places, and books in British abolitionist materials. I'm starting with subscription lists in books to see to what extent regional abolitionist groups of abolitionist connected to a centralized national movement. I have the start of this information in excel, which I want to move into something a bit more pliable. After a sizable amount of data is collected, I will use PHP to place the database online (on a different host than this site: Squaresoft is lovely for many things, but not for programming languages beyond html and css).

Equiano's English Subscriber Lists

My work Olaudah Equiano's Narrative intersects with this project. Currently I am putting the subscriber information from the nine editions, as well as the pirated US edition, into a dataset. The next phase of this project will look at connections between these individuals and regional abolitionists groups. I am particularly interested in moments of tension between anti-slavery groups within the Atlantic world, transatlantic connections between groups, as well as the history of specific members and groups, such as the Birmingham Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves (later the Female Society for Birmingham).

Click on the red dots for some basic metadata on subscribers from the English List. Zoom in and out. Find the American Subscribers. Sex: 0 = male; 1 female

Before these networks can be fleshed out, I am creating unique identifies for each subscriber listed, with rough notes on social (this will be tweaked further as we go along) and location. Shared subscriptions or the purchasing of multiple copies are also noted in the databases. Three online databases provide the primary models (as well as aspirations) for this project:

Slave Biographies: Atlantic Database Network (History Department, Michigan State University), which collects the often sparse biographical information on Atlantic World enslaved peoples, including details such as "names, ethnicities, skills occupations, and illnesses."

Legacies of British Slave-ownership (University College London), which is compiling an Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership of "every slave- owner in the British Caribbean, Mauritus or Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833 . . .  with particular emphasis on the 'absentee' owners based in Britain" using the records of government compensation paid to slave owners as its starting point. It aims to show the continuing link between slavery and British wealth from the nineteenth century to today.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (Emory University), covering decades on scholarship on more than 35,000 slave voyages between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This first 1789 list of "English" subscribers is fairly typical of what one would expect: there's an emphasis on people with titles as well as members of Parliament.** There are two subscribers from the US (have fun scrolling with the map). When you click on each dot, you'll note that I have made some choices in the beta version that may not stay for later versions: the class distinctions are fairly crude, and when no location was listed, the default location was London, and those with titles are often listed by their family seat, rather than their main residence. Some more famous figures in the abolitionist (such as Thomas Clarkson) are listed but their role in the movement will be noted later.

With the exception of the Dublin and Edinburgh lists, later subscriber lists are less geographically diverse as well as less highly (or at least overtly ranked). What find intriguing at this stage so far, though, is the way women represent themselves in the lists.

As with many subscriber lists of the time, the overwhelming majority are men. In the English Subscribers' List, women identified as "Miss" appear in family structures. For example, Miss Baillie and Miss J. Baillie (the only two Misses on the English list) appear in a cluster of four Baillies, including Mrs. Baillie and Matthew Baillie, M.D. But in later lists, women designated as "Miss" are more likely to occur on their own without male subscriber sharing their surname.

The proportion of women either marked as unmarried (i.e., Miss) or not having a marital marker (Catherine Morgan and Alice Ludlow on the Bristol list rises) increases over the course of the four lists located in England. Of those women marked as unmarried, two out of two on the English list are in a family grouping (the same one, in fact), but only three of the nine on the Hull list, zero of three on the Bristol list, and a mere five of the twenty-five on the Norwich list appear to be in family clusters, with what is likely a male or female parent.

The visualizations here are Google Fusion Tables and Excel. When there is more, I will move the dataset into RStudio and UCINet for closer analysis, with an emphasis on Social Network Analysis.

Creative Commons License

The work in my dataset is held under Creative Commons License.  Although I eventually want to make this available to other scholars, in this beta phases, the contents are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This means that must attribute it to me if you reference it, you may not use it for commercial purposes, and you may not remix, transform, or build upon this material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Creative Commons License
Database of Subscribers to the 1789-1794 Editions of Olaudah Equiano's Narrative by Emily MN Kugler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5hC-AiU3D6mZUROT0g4dC12QWc&usp=sharing.


*For a clear overview of the histories of digital humanities and its humanities computing roots, see Susan Hockey’s “The History of Humanities Computing" in A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/

The anthology Debates in the Digital Humanities is another excellent resource: 

Gold. Matthew K., ed. Debates in the Digital HumanitiesMinneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2002. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/

For a very brief bit on my own digital philosophy, go here.

** For two of the strongest analyses and most thorough overviews of the publication history of Equiano's Narrative, see:

Carretta, Vincent. Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man. London: Penguin, 2006.

Green, James. “The Publishing History of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative.” Slavery & Abolition 16.3 (1995): 362–375. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

For an excellent project that maps the content of The Narrative, see Elizabeth Maddock Dillon's "A Sea of Texts: The Atlantic World, Spatial Mapping, and Equiano's Narrative." Religion and Space in the Atlantic World, eds. John Corrigan, David Bodenhamer, and Trevor Harris (Indiana University Press, forthcoming). Currently available online: http://edillo4.wix.com/equiano-gis#!essay

Writing for Wadewitz: Tribute Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons for Adrianne Wadewitz

As mentioned in this site's CFP section, I am helping to organize May Write-Ins in Providence and Boston. 


Wednesday, 21 May 2014, 4:00 to 9:00pm, Digital Scholarship Commons at Snell Library


Thursday, 22 May 2014, 1:30 to 6:00pm, Digital Scholarship Lab at Rockefeller Library


Writing for Wadewitz: 

Tribute Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons for Adrianne Wadewitz

Cross-Posted at HASTAC

If you watched PBS NewsHour this weekend, you heard Adrianne Wadewitz discuss Wikipedia’s gender gap and the Edit-A-Thons as a way to address that problem. In response to the question of what needs to happen to increase the presences of women as editors and subjects on Wikipedia, Adrianne pointed out that this was not a simple issue of changing the demographics of editors, but of revolutionizing the perspectives represented in that community:

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ASECS14: Bizarre Silks, Beverage Trinity, Gothic Orientalism

“Enlightenment Occlusions:

Hidden Hybridity in European Literature and Culture”



Preferred link to this event: http://www.emilymnkugler.com/enlightenment-occulsions

At ASECS14, I co-organized and co-chaired a panel with the wonderful Dr. Samara Cahill. We were excited about this panel not only because it featured the kinds of transdiciplinary and transnational work we both love, but it was also one of two debut panel's for the Southeast Asian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (SASECS) at ASECS.  

For more on SASECS, including their recent MLA panels and upcoming conference, Sustainable Networks: The Enlightenment to the Contemporary (Nanyang Technological University Yunnan Garden Campus, Singapore June 13-15, 2014), see the brand new website: http://sasecs.com/ *


For more on the presenters, their presentations, and publications, along with information on the panel in general,

see the the link to its official page on this site or scroll through the presentation with tweets on Storify.

1. Katarzyna Bartoszyńska, Bilkent University, “Foreign Imports: Jan Potocki’s Gothic Orientalism”

2. David Borgonjon, Brown University, “From Oriental Genius to Native Genius/Oriental Genies: The ‘Bizarre Silks’ and Exoticist Abstraction”

3. Christine A. Jones, University of Utah, “On the Making of a Beverage Trinity: Coffee, Tea, and Hot Chocolate”

Slides from David and Christine's presentations are below, as is a Storify slideshow of the event. ***

* Soon SASECS.org will also be an option, I just need to map the domain.

** These slides were created for non-commerical, academic use. Although many of the images are in the public domain, please cite the authors or contact them for full citations if using their work.

ASECS14: Mary Prince and Olaudah Equiano

It's my favorite conference! 

At the 2014 meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS, Sessions Schedule here), presented on the second of two panels organized by The Bibliographical Society of  America, Print Culture and Dissent in the Long Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Here's a description of the panel from the original CFP:

“Frontispiece and Title Page”   Olaudah Equiano. From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African,   1789. Image. Newberry LIbrary. Web. 27 September 2013. 

“Frontispiece and Title Page” Olaudah Equiano. From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African, 1789. Image. Newberry LIbrary. Web. 27 September 2013. 

This panel explores the role print culture played in religious mid educational knowledge exchanges across the eighteenth century as a means of opening discussions about dissenting practice in the Atlantic World. This panel will ask several key questions: how might these interactions and exchanges enrich our understanding of the dimensions of religious, educational, and cultural practice in the transatlantic dissenting community? What can be learned from the successes or failures of the many efforts to propagate and disseminate forms of dissenting knowledge? How might exploring the reception or dismissal of particular books alter our understanding of dissent?

My paper, “Authoring Self in the Slave Narratives of Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince,” contrasted the different ways the two texts navigate questions of authorship and agency.  As I'm revising it post-conference, I plan to focus more on Mary Prince's History  as a way of exploring a kind of agency that doesn't subscribe to the author or activist models seen in Equiano's Narrative or other earlier British abolitionist writing. 

In an earlier incarnation,  this paper was a Rare Book Seminar in Watts Program of the John Carter Brown Library (Brown University), 10 October 2013.  

From the Watts Seminar description: For former slaves turned authors, Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, their autobiographies were not just tools in the abolitionist movement. The control they could exert over the content, form, and marketing of their books offered the opportunity to fashion public identities as free subjects, as authors of their own destinies. For Equiano, this led to wealth and international fame; for Prince, it was more complicated. Looking at the JCB's different editions of their narratives, we will see how their control over these textual bodies became contested in ways that mirrored their struggles to reclaim their legal selfhood.

For more information on the Fall 2013 Watts Program series, "What Is the History of the Book Today?," consult the blog's past semesters page.

"Title Page" The History of Mary Prince. 1831.Image. British Library. Web. 27 September 2013.

"Title Page" The History of Mary Prince. 1831.Image. British Library. Web. 27 September 2013.

Equiano's Narrative has been a recurring presence in my work. I first read the narrative in my undergraduate first year writing course a lifetime ago. It is a text I love to teach, especially along side Frances Burney's Mastectomy Letter, and my chapter “Loving the Unstable Text and Times of Equiano’s Narrative: Using Carretta’s Biography in the Classroom” is in Teaching Olaudah Equiano's Narrative: Pedagogical Strategies and New Perspectives  (University of Tennessee Press, 2012, accessible via Project Muse). Due to Equiano's account of the Ottomans, the Narrative also appears in my book,  The Sway of the Ottoman Empire on English Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century  (see chapter five).

Lately though, my attention has been shifting towards Prince's History. While doing further research at the JCB, I've becoming intrigued by one of the groups that read Prince's History, The Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves. Their albums (four of which are at the JCB, and I think that the Boston Athenaeum and NYPL also have copies) were intended to spread common information for abolitionists (post-abolition of the trade): excerpts from pamphlets, newspapers, images, and other sources were included in the album and in some cases pasted (or transcribed by hand, in one album I've looked at) in. I'm fascinated with the variations between these, especially individual drawings, poems written over more factual inserts, and other marginalia. I read the albums as representing the targeted audience of Prince's History,  a way of tracing its reception, and in the case letters from a Society member included the third edition, one of many authorial voices shaping the text.