MITH is delighted to announce that it has received an award from the 2013 National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities (IATDH) competition for the Building an Accessible Future for Humanities Project and will also serve as a partner in “O Say Can You See”: Early Washington, D.C. Law and Family Project, led by Will Thomas of the University of Nebraska Lincoln and funded by the Collaborative Research competition.

The Building an Accessible Future for the Humanities Project will facilitate four two-day long workshops where humanists, librarians, information scientists, and cultural heritage professionals can learn about technologies, design standards, and accessibility issues associated with the use of digital technologies. This important project is a partnership with the project, the Northeastern University Center for Digital Humanities, the Emory University Libraries Digital Commons (DiSC), the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska (UNL), and the College of Information at the University of Texas at Austin (UT).

While scholars who offer courses have been able to turn to their University-level instructional technologies staff for accessibility, scholars who are designing, building, and implementing digital products outside of the classroom (as most humanities-research projects do) have been unable to get the help or guidance that they need. These types of research and the issues of accessibility that they raise with are not the same accessibility issues usually addressed by disability support services offices on university campuses. These campus resources generally concentrate on students and their engagement with course materials (exams and textbooks) or the physical environment (assistive devices). As a result, humanists, librarians, and others looking for assistance in building, designing, and implementing digital projects for assisted users have been largely ignored. Accessible Future will engage those working in digital humanities, information studies, librarianship, and cultural heritage work with resources, training, and a community of people that can assist them with accessibility issues in their own research, training, and teaching.

Exact workshop dates as well as enrollment procedures will be announced in early fall 2013 on the MITH website and via Twitter. To aid you in beginning to plan, the tentative schedule will be as follows:

Workshop 1 will be fall of 2013 at Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Workshop 2 will be spring of 2014 at the University of Texas, Austin, TX
Workshop 3 will be fall of 2014 at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Workshop 4 will be winter of 2014/early 2015 at Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Accessible Future is led by Assistant Director Jennifer Guiliano (MITH), George Williams and Tina Herzberg ( with assistance from workshop hosts Elizabeth Dillon and Ryan Cordell (Northeastern), Tanya Clement (UT), Kay Walter (UNL), Stewart Varner and Brian Croxall (Emory). The team is assisted by: Jeremy Boggs (University of Virginia Scholar’s Lab), James Smith (MITH), Cory Bohon (Independent Developer), Clay Jeffcoat (Access Technology Coordinator for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind), and Marty R. McKenzie (Principal of the Division of Outreach Services for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind).

“O Say Can You See”: the Early Washington, D.C. Law and Family Project explores multi-generational black and white family networks in early Washington, D.C., by collecting, digitizing, making accessible, and analyzing over 4,000 case files from the D.C. court from 1808 to 1815, records of Md. courts, and related documents about these families. Scholars from the University of Maryland and the University of Nebraska will collaborate by uncovering the web of litigants, jurists, legal actors, and participants in this community, and by placing these family networks in the foreground of our interpretive framework of slavery and national formation. Focusing first on the landmark 1813 case Queen v. Hepburn, the only petition for freedom from slavery heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a foundational case establishing the hearsay rule, the project will document the relationships within and among black and white families in early D.C. at the center of these cases, host virtual seminars to refine our methods, and produce a series of studies in monograph and article form. The Nebraska team is led by Will Thomas, Chair, Department of History and John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History. The Maryland team is jointly led by Jennifer Guiliano, Assistant Director of MITH, and Trevor Muñoz, Associate Director of MITH and Assistant Dean of the University of Maryland Libraries.