DH Review: A Tale of Two Plantations

  A Tale of Two Plantations, this project is about the lifestyle of seven multi-generational families in Mesopotamia and Mount Airy.  Richard Dunn found a parallel between these two plantations and took it upon himself to further this research on the plantation in the midst of his book work.  The Mesopotamia plantation was located in Jamaica whereas the Mount Airy plantation was located in Virginia. In the Caribbean there has always been a huge presence of slaves, which could indicate the living conditions may not have been ideal or passable.  This may shed light on the fact that between the years of 1762 – 1833, there were 331 recorded slave deaths on the Mesopotamia plantation. I think the question that propelled Richard’s research is, “Why are so many slaves dying so quickly on the Caribbean Plantation?” 

     On the website, the information presents as a breakdown of the plantations’ ancestral lines, their direct lineage and probed the numerous difficulties they faced. Dunn includes diagrams, analysis, biographies and the immediate familial relations each slave had around the time of death.  There’s also notable events that took place on the plantation to give a clearer picture of the slaves’ in Jamaica’s’ daily plight.  The user interface of the website is simple and easy to use, it flows together.  Aesthetically its pleasing to look at and the color ways are suiting in light of the research and information presented. It is easy to navigate the site as someone who is new to all this information, I had no issues finding my way around.  The typography was legible and clear to understand, the pages were all organized and properly sorted. As you scroll you’re shown all the information documented with the exception of the family lists and trees of each plantation which is on a separate page.

     The digital humanities tools being used are the 3D modelling and mapping; the 3D modelling allows for the reconstruction of the past and future and the mapping tool would have been used for database mapping, spatial mapping and aerial. I do not think there are any issues with the presentation of the information in the project, it is cohesive and comprehensible with regards to the question(s).  The site is user friendly and the experience on the site is pleasant, I have no qualms.  However, in terms of the scope of the research, I feel that Dunn could have gone a bit further to include information about the health of the mothers on the Mesopotamia plantation to give further insight and understanding into the rampant death level, as well as their almost exact living conditions.

DH Review – A COLONY IN CRISIS: THE SAINT-DOMINGUE GRAIN SHORTAGE OF 1789

By Dinelle Dailey

The Haitian Revolution, Saint Domingue as once upon a time, the richest colony in the French Empire, and the Grain Dispute of 1789 may or may not be subjects one may be familiar with after taking a Caribbean History course. During this period, Saint Domingue, now known as Haiti was going through a period of gaining their independence from their mother country, France. During this period a Grain Dispute arose, whereby the colonials believed that they were being robbed of their supply of flour from merchants.

A COLONY IN CRISIS: THE SAINT-DOMINGUE GRAIN SHORTAGE OF 1789  is the great title posed from this Digital Humanities site. Considering the period Saint Domingue enduring, How were the people of St.Domingue able to deal with the grain shortage of 1789?

The answers lie in over twelve(12) curated, well organized, English translated pamphlets identified as “The Translations” that speak on the lifestyle and conditions of not only the slaves but that also of the planters themselves. Additionally, the reaction of the French nationals to this remarkable historic moment was recorded.

The student-friendly site uses narratives to present forth the information gathered to viewers. Furthermore, it is arranged in a specific order giving any reader, on the first page, the privilege of having a brief understanding of what this project is about and what it aims to do. Another page is made available giving a more precise and comprehensive understanding of the curated data and the goals the creators aim to reach with this site. To make the main source of information accessible and at least slightly easier for both French and English speaking to understand,  the pamphlets are available in both French and English translations to follow. These are arranged in three(3) issues based on topic, with a few introductory paragraphs based on what the pamphlet entails. Issue 1.0 focuses mainly on the rapport between the Deputies of Saint-Domingue with French officials in France or Saint-Domingue. Issue 2.0 focuses on issues surrounding 1789 Saint-Domingue. Issue 3.0 focuses on the kind of knowledge about life under slavery that can be gleaned from the colonial archive.

The Digital Humanities site also provides recording audio of Issue 1.0 in Kreyòl version taking into consideration the Kreyòl speaking viewers. Furthermore, a “Background Notes” tab entailing information about the nature of other sectors of Saint Domingue during the historic period is made available finally, The site provides a tab of ‘Acknowledgements’ to those who contributed to the incredible resource that is now available. Conclusively, although that site is well organized, a Kreyòl version of all three(3) issues should be made available instead of just one. The headings of the various tabs should be capitalized with a different home picture. That is a picture that is warm but also gives an idea or understanding of what the site itself is about. Additionally, changing the structure/ format of the site would make the site a little more appealing as one of the aims is strictly targeted to students themselves.

DH Review: Building Communications 1838-1938

By Chelsea Bertrand

As a research institution,  Create Caribbean offers academic services and academic research opportunities to students in the digital humanities field, at the Dominica State College.  Interns are expected to prepare research gatherings for numerous projects. One of the projects is  “Building Communities”.  In this project the centre of attention is the rise of community between 1838-1938.  Featured in this project are the important historical events experienced in Dominica.  The creator of this project seeks to provide a reliable source for information on the island of Dominica.  This person seeks to answer questions such as “ What was Dominica like between 1838-1938?” or “ How have the places i know today come to be?  

The author answers this question in this project through thorough  research of archives and records taken during the time period. The researcher employs many techniques in order to achieve the research purpose.   The researcher makes use of stories from persons who have lived on the island somewhere within the time period. The project focuses on important pieces of Dominican life  such as the catholic Church and follows the journey from 1838 to 1938.

The persons responsible for the project constructed the timelines which feature prominent moments in history such as the census riot and the of Dominica becoming a fully federated member of the Leeward Islands. In their research he was able to digitize the evolution of Dominica as a country and the people as a community.  

A digital humanist uses many tools in order to preserve, analyse and compile information. This normally includes the systematic use of digital resources in the humanities. Digital humanities  is an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. It is collaborative, trans-disciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publishing. These projects are used as a means of preserving important events in history on a online or digital platform. These persons use available technologies to study and visualize our experiences or those of others. The researchers took advantage of available technological resources and uses them to achieve their common goal of sharing the lives, events, and experiences  of ancestors with the public.

The findings of the researchers displayed on the  website that have a deep sense of History which is very appropriate.  They present the information mostly on powerpoint slides. These slides showcase the relevant historical information  against related images. Throughout the project, an air of simplicity is maintained which allows users to easily navigate the website and access information on the website.  The layout of the website also lends to the uncomplicated usability of the website. The researcher make use of colour as a means of directing the user’s attention towards important details these pops of colour also grab the attention of the readers of the publication.

This deeper delve into the climate would have allowed the information to be better received which would lend to a greater appreciation for the information being shared.  

The project does a great job in providing a reliable source for persons interested in learning more about Dominica.  However a few things could be changed in order to make the website more user friendly. One of which being larger font sizes on certain slides in order to increase readability.  The navigation between pages could also be made less complicated to better the user experience.

Create Caribbean’s and Richard Dunn’s projects, although similar,  could both take aspects from each other. Create Caribbean project covers an array of aspects of Dominica’s culture under the broad topic of Building communities.  Dunn’s project on the other hand focuses on only one issue throughout the entire project. Dunn’s work also focuses on the familial relationships of slaves while Create Caribbeans project has a cultural sense;  I believe that Richard Dunn could take some of this and add it to his work.

DH Review – The Road to Freedom

By Rennick Stevens

This web resource was developed to show case Dominica’s road to independence. It highlights the transition of from being under Britain to political independence. The project covers information from the 1950s to the 1980s. It gives insight to key historical events. The web resource contains images, text-documents, parliamentary documents, audiovisual recordings among other data collection methods.

The culture of Dominica is very diverse and as suggested by the web page that is has transformed over the years. The carnival, as we know it was once called Masquerade. Back then they said that carnival was consider a dangerous event, and even today people are saying the same thing that carnival or  Masquerade. Today people can say its best to cross the bridge.

The culture of Dominica is very diverse and as suggested by the web page that is has transformed over the years. The carnival, as we know it was once called Masquerade. Back then they said that carnival was consider a dangerous event, and even today people are saying the same thing that carnival or  Masquerade. Today people can say its best to cross the bridge. I believe it was from the 1960s that world creole festival, by a man name Premier Edward Oliver Le Blanc. Dominica’s culture is our identity, without our culture we wouldn’t have known who we are today. Culture bring people together.

The economic journey of Dominica of the country was never an easy road, and according to the text the economic development is critical for nation building. From peasant labor to industrialization and den . In-terms of the social journey, from the 1950s Dominica began to develop social areas. These social activities include the building of roads, gaining access to portable drink drinking water and also communication, both in the country and from the country. Still on the history of Dominica, it was a struggle as the country grew. The lack of jobs and education would arise a new problem. Hence the reason for so many schools in the town of Roseau. But the struggles and challenges shaped and made Dominica what it is today.

All in all the history of Dominica is preserved through this web resource, it is good when we our history. In other words to know where come from.

Review of DH Projects – Dominica’s History: The Road to Independence

By Quisha Pascal

The Commonwealth of Dominica located between two French islands,  was under the British rule for many years until they sought independence. The mountainous island gained independence from Britain on November 3rd, 1978. The Road to Independence is a multimedia website resource used to celebrate Dominica’s 2015 History Week. History Week is an annual program by the Division of Culture to create public awareness, especially among the island’s students, on various topics of interest in Dominica’s history. The major question obtained from  “The Dominica History: A Road to Independence” website demonstrates the steps taking by Dominica to achieve independence.

Firstly, the introduction page is a bit dull, however, it seeks to illustrate various aspects of the Commonwealth of Dominica’s history and culture. It gives a brief summary of the journey to Dominica’s Independence. Separated into different sections gives the user the opportunity to click on the appropriate tab to get the information they require. The tabs give you the ability to navigate throughout the information since it contains a wealth of knowledge and information.  The data is separated by decades, Categories and resources allowing for a more comprehensive search.

The user can explore Categories such as cultural Routes, Social Changes, Political Roads, and The Economic Journeys. The category that stood out was the Cultural routes, as culture continues to play a large role in the life of Dominicans. From the indigenous Kalinago to the Europeans who colonized it, and the Africans they brought to work there to work as slaves, the influences of the different people who have lived there remained and shaped the culture of the island. The user can also scout the decades’ section for information under the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and beyond. This makes the information very accessible and the website very user-friendly. The website uses mages, text-documents, newspaper clippings, court, legal and Parliamentary documents, audiovisual recordings, and other resources that appropriately chronicle the history of Dominica’s road to sovereignty to bring forth the information.

The Digital Humanities tools used in this website are Mapping, 3D Modelling, and Topic Modelling. The website is said to have used the Mapping tool since the website is said to have Aerial timelines and spatial storytelling and database mapping. The website is also said to have used the Topic Modelling since visual historical themes were apparent. Furthermore, 3D Modelling plays a part in the tools used in the website since there is a reconstruction of the future and past visible.

To make the Dominica History: A Road to Independence website more effective, more information should be added to the Political Roads and Social Changes before and after the island of Dominica gained its Independence. Information about the Trade Unions and the major role they played in Dominica should be also added.

DH Review: SPAT Memory Project

By Alina Esprit

The SPAT Memory project was created by Create Caribbean as a storage unit for the publications and documents related to the organization. The acronym stands for Small Projects Alliance Team, which I think speaks for itself. This Dominica-based non-profit organization served our island nation for decades fulfilling so many community projects. The obvious question here is: “What were these projects and how did they impact Dominica?” The researchers who worked on this project answer this question by putting together collections of digitized newspaper articles and pictures that show us what went on during the time SPAT served. SPAT projects included publications, documentaries, town hall meetings and intellectual events of political, economic, and cultural merit. According to the site, “SPAT was integral to development and advocacy initiatives around the island and influenced key policies in areas of labor and economics, politics, gender, literacy and adult education, creative and performing arts, indigenous culture.” The digitized newspaper articles prove that the previous statement is factual considering the conversations taking place during that time.

The site’s background is plain white and all text is either black or grey making it super easy to read. The site is not difficult to navigate and has a simple sidebar menu. The site is okay as it stands but it is not interactive at all. It’s really bland and very boring. I would like to see some more color and vibrance on this site. Also, I think a timeline be a very good addition.This would make it easier for learners to understand the progress and development of SPAT. I also think that a bit of background information on the individual articles or collection of articles should be included. This is because the articles are sometimes difficult to read because it is a scan of a relatively old newspaper. Additionally, I think there should be more background information on the executive members of SPAT so readers can recognize and have a greater appreciation for their contributions.

In future, I would like for the site to be as entertaining and engaging as A Tale of Two Plantations in terms of colour and interactiveness. I would also like to read a little more about the startup of the SPAT similar to the introduction of the site mentioned. It’s a great way to catch the interest and attention of readers.

DH Review: A Tale of Two Plantations

By Alina Esprit

While writing his book, Sugar and Slaves, author Richard Dunn became intrigued with the history of slavery as well as the contrast between U.S and Caribbean slavery. He believed that the two were very different. After doing further research, he discovered a pair of comparable records for the Mesopotamia plantation in Jamaica and the Mount Airy plantation in Virginia. Dunn found that on the Mesopotamia plantation there were 331 more slave deaths than births over a span of 71 years (1762-1833) which required the purchase of 415 slaves as replacements. On the other hand, on the Mount Airy plantation, there were 293 more slave births than deaths over a period of 56 years (1809-1865). It was reported that the population of slaves on the Mount Airy plantation doubled every twenty five years as a result of natural births. After reading this the most pressing question seemed to be: “What are the factors contributing to the rapidly decreasing slave population on the Mesopotamia plantation?”

This DH website displays research found on the lives of 431 slaves in seven multi-generational families at both plantations. These family histories have been gathered from the annual inventories of two slaveholders. We are given an introduction which gives a brief summary of the occurrences on the plantations as well as the reason behind the comparison between these two plantations in particular. Researchers also included a family tree for each family, a family diagram, an analysis, a brief biography on Richard Dunn and a list of all 431 individuals that includes a brief description of the lives of these individuals, their reported spouses/children and their recorded time of death. All of these features help us to understand patterns and other contributing factors that made the life of a Caribbean slave different from the the life of a slave in the U.S.

In terms of interface, the website is very easy to use and navigate, there is no lagging when scrolling and all information is accessible. The colors used are very easy on the eyes making the information easy to read and understand. Almost all the information is presented while you scroll to the bottom of the page with the exception of the family trees and the family lists of both plantations. The research is presented in a very concise yet informative manner. I learned a lot without doing an overwhelming amount of reading. The researchers digitized the family diagram of Sally Thurston through four generations allowing us to trace the lives of her children and their children.

I do not think that there could be anything added to this site to enhance my experience. There is also nothing that I would remove. I think the information is presented in a very effective way and the site is extremely user friendly. I had a great overall experience on this knowledge site.

Review of DH Projects: “A Tale of Two Plantations”

By Quisha Pascal

Living as slaves is the most difficult thing anyone could endure. From sunrise to sunset everyday living in these horrible conditions, from generations to generations. The website, A tale of two plantations, demonstrates the lifestyle of seven multi-generational families in two different locations, yet with similar characteristics. The website breaks down the plantations’ ancestral lines and explores the history of growth or reduction in population.  The website, questions the relationship between the slaves in Mesopotamia and Mount Airy. In an effort to create a clearer picture, Richard Dunn gathered as much information as possible on the families. The information spoke to their direct lineage and explored the difficulties they faced. The families in Jamaica and Virginia undergo harsh treatment, enforced into labour.

The introduction page catches the eye and gives a brief explanation of what one can expect to find. Although it contains a wealth of information, the information is separated into different categories making it easy to click the appropriate tab to take you to the information you require. This makes the info very accessible and the website very user-friendly. The search engine also gives you the option of looking up specific names on the family lists. The family trees is further separated by gender and race.  The website displays pages with information that is brought forth in diagrams, lists and tables for a better understanding. The website pages range from Family Diagrams, Family Trees, Family Lists Analysis and Information of the writer, Richard Dunn. One of the families demonstrated was Sarah Affir. Her family documents several important aspects of slave life in Mesopotamia. Majority of Sarah Affir’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were fathered by white men and the remaining by black men. Her children were fathered by white men led them to have domestic occupations. members of Sarah Affir’s family joined the Moravian Christian Church at Mesopotamia. Another family, Sally Thurton’s family from Mount Airy was also demonstrated. Sally Thurston’s Family was almost entirely composed of field workers. Six members of her family members were sold, another twenty-seven were made to walk 800 miles to Alabama, and another seventeen were sent to Alabama during the Civil War. No one in Sally’s family deserted to the Yankees during the war. By 1870, forty-eight members of Sally Thurston’s family can be found in Alabama, and only three in Virginia.

The digital humanities tool being used in the “A Tale of Two Plantations” website are mapping, topic modelling and 3D Modelling. The mapping tool allows for aerial mapping, database mapping and spatial storytelling. Additionally, the topic modelling enables the ability to visualize historical themes and also the 3D modelling allows for the reconstruction of the past and future. The website is to be collaborative, blended, unstable, and political. To make this project more effective, information on motherhood and how did the slaves having children with the white opposite sex affect their occupation and their living conditions.

DH Review – THE VINEGAR HILL PROJECT

By Rennick Stevens

The Vinegar Hill Project is center around the question
“Can the thoughtful application of new technologies, informed by archival research and sustained civic engagement, reveal new understandings of urban renewal and its long term impact on the health and welfare of a community? “. This research is based in a town called Vinergar Hills. In the mid to late 19th century this town was a African American or in other words a black Community that was declared blighted or eradicated. They seek to change and remove the culture and life styles of that community by turning it into Charlottesville.

This website has five pages. These pages include a home menu which basically introduced the main theme, the about menu. This pages us all bout the project gives us idea of what Vinegar hill is directly about. Then we have the Viseyes Exhibit, here we have maps and location. bibliography and timeline. The information is every accessible to who ever wants to know about the Vinegar hills.

This Vinegar Hills Project seeks to bring back the community which once was occupied by the African American people. It is a way of bringing history into digital memory. It is termed in the project as urban renewal, “negro removal”. The Vinegar Hills was transformed in a colored community called Charlottesville, their culture and way of life was done away with, but the Vinegar Hills Project Brings that part of history back in memory.

Since 2005 researchers from the Virginia Center for Digital History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies have been working with local residents to digitize photos, getting oral histories and to build this online archive. A memoryscape, a
memoryscape allows an area to continue to be its own place with a new history, while allowing one to experience aspects of its past.

I have also found out in further studies “in 1965, the city government razed the downtown African American neighborhood Vinegar Hill as an urban renewal project, after the city council passing a law that “unsanitary and unsafe” properties could be taken over by a housing authorities. One hundred thirty homes, thirty Black-owned businesses, and a church were destroyed. Many displaced community members moved into the Westhaven public housing project. The land was not redeveloped until the late 1970s,” this is according to the online encyclopedia.

In my opinion this transit from Vinegar Hills to Charlottesville was kind of on a races level, so to speak. The reason for me saying this is because, they wanted to do away with the culture an way of business for the African American people and turn the town into a colored town. That wasn’t right to do. They tried to erase Vinegar Hills history, but the Vinegar Hills project is based here to bring back the history of Charlottesville which was then called Vinegar heads  

DH Review – “Building Communities 1838-1938”

By Shalian Shaw

“Building Communities 1838-1938” is a project created in 2016 by The Dominica History web resource which is a collaboration between the Division of Culture in Dominica and Create Caribbean Research Institute. The project deals with how the former slaves of Dominica obtained their freedom in the year 1838 and subsequently created a life for themselves. The physical building of villages and towns is not the main focus, it also focuses on the building of relationships and uniting as a people. From what i understand, the major research question is ‘How has Dominica’s villages and towns have been formed and developed and how was solidarity and unity created among our people?’.

The researchers went about answering this question in different ways. One of which was by talking about the communities and the different events which led to their names. Also in timelines, pivotal actions of the people and governing bodies which lead to changes made in the ways of life of the formerly enslaved, were displayed.

The bright colours and interesting pictures all throughout the project entices the viewer to read and look for more.  By including both a primary school and secondary school section students off various ages can easily navigate the project and understand the information presented. The primary school section contains fun facts about the communities where the students can learn about the villages in Dominica and also a short story which presents the information in an interesting way for their young minds. Under the secondary school section three timelines are presented, one being important dates in Dominica from 1838-1938, the second being important dates in the caribbean for that same time period and the last, a timeline of the Catholic Church in Dominica. These present the important information in an interesting way displaying pictures with the dates as well. Besides the primary and secondary school categories, the project also has a home page, community bulletin, archive, credits and a link to another project by Create Caribbean from the previous year, 2015.  

Some digital humanities tools utilised in this project are, short and long form text and storytelling.

I think that some more history about slavery in the caribbean could be included into the project. Anyone is able to visit the site and they may not be that knowledgeable of the topic of slavery. This would give them an insight and background information to better understand slavery in the caribbean and even specifically, Dominica.  

The Create Carribean project was both informative and enjoyable. I personally would have liked to see more pictures in the project “A tale of two plantations” which i reviewed earlier. Maybe some pictures of the plantation and slave life for example. Pictures are known to capture the attention of any audience, with more picture more people will be interested in the information being presented.