CODeL ASSIGNMENT COVER 2018
THE MAKING OF THE ATLANTIC WORLD HGE 3611
Assignment no (e.g. 1, 2 or 3, etc.).
Review essay: Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network. http://slavebiographies.org/Reviewer: Chatambula Puteho
The web-site “Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network” Was developed/ designed by Daniel Janquint, with the help of ;Catherine Foley, Lindsey Gish, Caitlin Holmann, Ramata Kaumare, Paul LaChance, Madalyn Parker, and Joseph Deming. In addition, we have three teams which also contributed to the development and establishment of this website. This includes the Principal team, which has Professor Walter Hawthorne, Adjacent Professor Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, and Assistence Professor Ethan Watrall. Another individual who made contribution to the existence of this website is categorised as The Contributing Researcher, Brian Mitcell. To conclude with the list of the developers, here are the names of the advisory board which also played a role in the planning of this website; Professor Manuel Barcia, Professor Maria del Carmen Barcia Zengueira, etc.
This website was funded 99, 994 US dollars by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2011, which helped in the establishment of this Website. The Atlantic Database Network website is used as an open data repository of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. In addition, it includes the names, ethnicities, skills, occupations, and illnesses of individual slaves The main aim of this website is to avail data about Atlantic slavery to students, teachers, and the public around the world. Moreover, the website creates a platform that combines multiple, individual datasets in a way that is complimentary and creates a resource for quantitative data analysis and visualizations.
There is a significant need for a collaborative research site about Atlantic slavery. During the past two decades, there has been a seismic change in perception about what we can know about African slaves and their descendants throughout the Atlantic World (Africa, Europe, North and South America). Scholars have realized that, far from being either non-existent or extremely scarce, various types of documentation about African slaves and their descendants throughout the Atlantic abound in archives, courthouses, churches, government offices, museums, ports, and private collections spread throughout the Atlantic World.
Since the 1980s, several major databases were constructed in original digital format and used in major publications of their creators, but they lack a platform for preservation and therefore are at risk of being lost as their creators retire. Also, several collections of original manuscript documents are beginning to be digitized and made accessible free of charge over the Web.
Our task as historians is more than to preserve images of primary sources; it is to interpret those sources by finding new ways to organize, share, mine and analyse as well as to preserve original materials which might otherwise be discarded or lost. Furthermore, new scholarship is interested in observing the large historical patterns and tendencies. Answering important questions about Atlantic slavery requires the gathering of larger amounts of quantitative data than one individual collection could ever hope to compile and interpret. Slave Biographies fills a real need. It will serve as a collaborative platform for researchers of African slaves in the Atlantic World to upload data they have collected and link it to other datasets, creating a much richer resource than the sum of the individual datasets.
What We’ve Done So Far
Slave Biographies began officially in 2011 with a $99,994 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This initial funding allowed the development team to define a core set of comprehensive metadata fields for biographical data about slaves and create a database for this information in Kora, the open source digital repository platform that powers Slave Biographies. Two collections were normalized and cross-walked into the comprehensive database fields.
During the initial funding phase, Slave Biographies produced a data guidebook that explains the data structure, describes the types of records in the system, and defines each field, along with controlled vocabularies to standardize data in several fields, as appropriate. Slave Biographies also developed a set of integrated digital tools that enable researchers, students and the public to perform statistical calculations. Users can also download the dataset in Excel format and can use search functions to locate individual slaves. In May of 2017, Dr. Brian Mitchell contributed a third data set to Slave Biographies. Dr. Mitchell’s “Free Blacks” dataset contains data he mined from The Mayor’s Register of Free Blacks in the City of New Orleans from 1840 to 1864.
Although much has already been accomplished, there is still more to do. Slave Biographies has plans to develop multiple user interfaces that will support the diverse needs of our audiences including genealogists, students, and researchers. Further we plan a visualization layer by developing means of displaying the complex web of kinship and other social network relationships that are well-represented in contributed datasets. Finally we intend to devise a mechanism that will allow the database system to determine the likelihood that slave records from two or more primary source documents describe the same individual.
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