Distant Reading for the Classroom

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Distant reading will make a world of textual evidence available in new and engaging ways for students of slavery. Looking for words and phrase patterns that reoccur in the existing recored of runaway slave advertisements using data mining techniques will also introduce students to the digital humanities. Slaveholders placed detailed advertisements in colonial era and nineteenth-century newspapers seeking the return of enslaved men and women who chose to run away from bondage. These advertisements offer a window into the world of slavery that can be enhanced using distant reading techniques and methods.

Multiple websites are dedicated to digitizing runaway slave advertisements and can form a base of data for a distant reading project. One such site, the Geography of Slavery in Virginia, pulls together advertisements from Virginia newspapers. Another deals with North Carolina Slave Advertisements from 1751 to 1840.

Distant reading will help to determine common categories and features of slavery.


Source: Distant Reading for the Classroom

Utter Frustration

So, although I am supposed to be thinking about the ways that non-textual sources might inform my scholarship of teaching and learning, I find that I am completely obsessed with the inability to make Omeka work for me. I’ve created a collection but can’t seem to add any additional documents.  What in the world is going wrong???

The Project

Ohio formed the western frontier of the antislavery movement in the mid-nineteenth century.  It was often called the second “burned over district” (with upstate New York being the first) for its commitment to evangelical reform movements. This project presents documents related to the antislavery movement in this region for scholarly use.

The papers of the Sutliff family of Trumbull County, Ohio form the first phase of the project. Most of the documents are linked to three brothers: Levi, Flavel, and Milton Sutliff and shed important light on the abolition movement and politics in Ohio,  the region, and the nation. Levi Sutliff was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and active in Liberty Party politics in Ohio. Flavel Sutliff was the law partner of abolitionist congressman Joshua Giddings, and  many letters in the collection detail Giddings’s first term in Congress. Milton Sutliff, also an abolitionist, was  a prominent lawyer and Ohio Supreme  Court justice.

Many of these documents will be presented here for the first time. To date, all documents in the collection have been digitally scanned. See the example here.

Sutliff Papers Sample

Source: The Project