Darold Cuba, Harvard University

According to Conrad and Sitton (2005): “Historians largely missed the more general response of the freedmen’s settlements, where ex-slaves remained in the South to establish all-black landowner communities as far away from white authority as possible. Numbers are difficult to estimate, but this ubiquitous, unremarked internal “exodus” to local “freedom colonies” must have dwarfed the famous move north.” This paper presents findings from #MappingFreedom, the efforts to create a digital database and interactive GIS- & Wiki-enabled map of all of the #FreedomColonies, as a framework for an international UNESCO World Heritage Trail of each community (modeled after Colonial Williamsburg & Jamestown), and create the International Association of Freedom Colonies (iAFC) and the iAFC’s Oral History Archives as a public-private partnership. Over 5,000 freedom colonies have been identified in the US alone (and 558+ in Texas), with the first one being founded in 1738, Ft. Mose, Florida. Numerous others exist along every pathway of the Western colonial circuit, from palenques, quilombos, and maroon colonies in Colombia, Brazil, and Jamaica and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean including Haiti, to the “black/brown ‘freedmen’ settlements" in North America, Australia, Africa and Asia - people defended themselves by creating “colonies of freedom.” As the first ever Wikipedia Fellow, Wikimedian-In-Residence and Wikipedia Visiting Scholar, and a former journalist/producer, I'm creating a database to catalogue these spaces, using the iAFC as an investigative outreach program to further identify locations. As the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at the Computer Graphics User Interface Lab and the Columbia University Libraries, we’re exploring VR/AR/AR/ML and other XL possibilities for experiential onsite and offsite interaction with the histories of these places, using the iAFC’s archives.

See paper

 Presented in Session 228. Public Facing Historical Big Data Projects: Challenges and Opportunities