“I thought the project sounded
interesting,” she said, after learning about it from Foreman. “So many
records are lost, and so many African Americans have difficulty learning
anything about their ancestors, after the years of slavery and Jim
Crow, that preserving the records we have is really important.”
CCP has brought together undergraduate and graduate students from
across the University, along with faculty members, archivists, library
professionals, classroom teachers, community groups and churches. All
share an interest in preserving historical records, particularly those
that have often been overlooked.
Alison Robinson, a student in UD’s master’s degree program in
material culture studies, said she first learned about CCP in September
and “fell in love with it.”
“This particular project is trying to remind the world of how
important history is, and how relevant it is to our world today,” she
said. Working with documents that show the effect of historical events
and times on everyday individuals, she said, is especially compelling.
“With this project, you really hear
the voices directly—voices of African Americans and of people who
interacted with them,” she said of the Freedmen’s Bureau documents. “You
see the power of local-level history, and you see the personal impact.
And that’s exciting.”
More about the Colored Conventions Project
The CCP is a collaborative, digital project that is a key part of
UD’s ongoing initiatives to build on its established strengths in the
public humanities, particularly African American public humanities, and
material culture studies.
The University of Delaware Library is a key partner in the interdisciplinary project.
The initiative resurrects buried digital history by finding,
digitizing, archiving and making publicly available the minutes and
other records from the numerous Colored Conventions that met across the
United States and Canada in the 19th century.
African American men and women, including such prominent leaders as
Douglass, gathered at these conventions to strategize about ways to
achieve political, social and legal justice.
The project has involved research, classroom experiences and
community engagement by both graduate and undergraduate students in such
fields of study as history, Africana studies and English.
The CCP has won numerous awards for its work. In October, the National Endowment for the Humanities
highlighted it as one of 50 projects selected for recognition in the
agency’s “NEH Essentials” list of important work it has supported in its
To Foreman, Frederick Douglass Day was a natural fit for CCP.
“One of the Colored Conventions Project’s central values is to adopt
and advance the community-building that the conventions themselves
modeled,” she said. “The records of people and movements that have been
dismissed and undervalued, and so lost and unarchived, are often only
recovered through collective, community-sourced commitment.”
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Kathy F. Atkinson