African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities (AADHum) was awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and is being co-directed by MITH and the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy (Center for Synergy). The project was funded by a $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for research, education and training at the intersections of digital humanities and African American studies, and will help to prepare a diverse community of scholars and students whose work will both broaden the reach of the digital humanities in African American history and cultural studies, and enrich humanities research with new methods, archives and tools.
AADHum is built upon two of the University of Maryland’s areas of internationally recognized excellence: African American history and cultural studies and digital humanities. The proposed project aims to strengthen both of these fields and offer new knowledge and understanding to scholars, students, cultural heritage professionals, and the public. African American history and cultural studies offers a broad landscape of research questions and archival collections relating to race and racialization that have not yet been widely engaged by the digital humanities. The thematic focus of the project, African American labor, migration and artistic expression, incorporates the broad intellectual interests shared by a large group of prominent scholars, students and staff on campus, and represents some of the campus’s greatest strengths. Specific research projects will be undertaken in collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America, which houses the Archive of Immigrant Voices; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora with its collection of over 50,000 objects that chronicle the development and understanding of the study of African American visual culture; and the UMD libraries’ recently acquired George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a preeminent research collection for the study of American labor history.
AADHum will operate as a catalyst and a connector for scholars while providing concrete training and tools to project personnel, the wider UMD campus, and other institutions. The project will apply MITH’s Digital Humanities Incubator model to introduce scholars, students and cultural heritage professionals to new modes of research through a series of workshops, tutorials and detailed consultations. The goal of the Incubator framework is to organize the high-level training intended to acculturate scholars, students, and librarians to new modes of research, collaboration, and publishing across projects. The project team will work with the Driskell Center, CHNA, and the Meany Archives to identify small datasets from those collections focused on immigration and labor as testbeds for the initial Incubator, which will prepare the ground for such work by cultivating and vetting research questions that arise as our the collections are made tractable to digital tools and methods.
The Center for Synergy will provide an interdisciplinary bridge between departments and centers and facilitate the public facing events, curricular initiatives and websites connected with the project. This includes graduate and undergraduate courses, summer institutes for faculty to diversify and transform curricula, and themed seminar and speaker series.
“Five generations on Smith’s plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina”, Timothy O’Sullivan, 1862—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Power and Purpose, 2008, Paper pulp painting, 49.5 x 97″, © 2013 Preston Sampson. 500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909, Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128.