Digital Harlem

This is a very cool digital history project.

Four Australian historians have put together an award-winning digital project on the history of Harlem between 1915 and 1925.  Here is a taste of an article on Digital Harlem which appeared a few weeks ago at The Atlantic.

The seeds of the project began about 30 years ago when Shane White “lucked into” the question that would dominate his career: What did it mean to be a black person walking along a New York City street? Writing about his work in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011, White said he was drawn to “the gritty details of the everyday life of ordinary black men and women — the stuff of culture all too often dismissed as mere ephemera.”

White and the others used archival material from New York, especially legal records, to create the interactive historical nature of Digital Harlem. The site can be searched for people, places, or events that occurred during the 15-year window, with an emphasis on everyday experiences. With a few clicks, users can find out where residents went to church, where they got into traffic accidents, where they held parties, where they bowled. You can even track the entire life of an individual, as Robertson’s done with a man named Perry Brown.

What if we did something like this for Harrisburg or Mechanicsburg?  Let’s start thinking outside the box about how we, as professors and students, might collaborate to make history more accessible and interesting for the public.

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