Thanks go to Julian Chambliss for creating and sharing the awesome Advocate Recovered project, which is critical making, digital history, postcolonial digital humanities, experiential pedagogy, and an OER (Open Educational Resource)! For more background, see the About page (also copied below for ease). I’m so excited to see this project for so many reasons!
Advocate Recovered is a critical making project conceived by Dr. Julian C. Chambliss from the Department of History at Rollins College. The goal of this project is to recover the contents of the Winter Park Advocate, an African-American newspaper published in Winter Park, Florida. For decades the history of the African American experience after the Civil War in the United States has been the focal point for historians. In emphasizing the importance of the period after Reconstruction in 1951 C. Vann Woodward’s Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 forced historians to rethink traditional periodization about race and social relations in the South. Expanding on this ideological point in the 1990s, Edward L. Ayers’s The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction suggested the mobility created by New South “modernization” triggered violent confrontations, fractured politics, and social upheaval. This project enhances our understanding of this crucial period by offering a window on the African American experience in Florida in their own words. At the same time, as a digital history project that requires undergraduate students to engage with primary sources, it offers the opportunity for experiential learning through archival research and transcription. A digital history project linked to an underrepresented minority, this project engages in the postcolonial digital humanities approach articulated by scholars such as Adeline Koh who urge scholars to disrupt patterns of privilege replicated in digital humanities by incorporating minority voices. By working to highlight the African American experience this project will create an open electronic resource (OER) useful for variety of teaching and learning goals.
Owned and operated by African Americans residing in Hannibal Square, the African American district in Winter Park, The Advocate was a weekly that began publication in May 1889. The Advocate provided a forum for community news that included social, political and economic concerns. Heavily reflecting the political landscape of the time, the paper was a strong voice for Republican politics in a time of resurgent Democratic politics. As such, the stories and opinion in the pages of The Advocate represent a critical primary source documenting the transformation of Florida in the 1890s. Although The Advocate was thought to be lost, significant fragments of the paper can be found in the Winter Park Scrapbook (WPS) located in the Olin Library Archive and Special Collection at Rollins College. By transcribing these fragments, this project offers unique insights about the evolution of southern society after Reconstruction. Whether the rise of Jim Crow segregation or black economic and social aspiration, The Advocate offers a glimpse of African-American thought and action. As a digital pedagogical project, this project allows students to engage with the past in a unique manner. Beyond transcription, undergraduate researchers create categories and tags reflecting historically relevant topics. Taken together, the project provides a resource for the public and unique learning experience for students while shedding new light on African-American action and reactions in the late nineteenth century.
One is that I’m so excited about this project is that I’ll be presenting next month on Open Educational Resources at the University of the Virgin Islands, which is one of the founding partners of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and which is currently one of the partners on a collaborative project to digitize issues of The Herald, edited by D. Hamilton Jackson. Given the importance of The Herald and D. Hamilton Jackson, there are so many opportunities for critical making, digital history, postcolonial digital humanities, experiential pedagogy, and OERs (Open Educational Resources), and I’m looking forward to seeing these opportunities unfold in the near future!