Digital Project Proposal

The topic of North American maroonage is one that is rarely studied or discussed. Maroonage, or marronage, is the act of a slave fleeing, generally to an area uneasily accessible, such as a swamp or mountains. Maroonage is often divided into two sections, grand and petit. Petit maroonage is temporary, it is when a slave flees to visit a family member or is trying to negotiate better terms with the plantation owner, but intends on returning. Grand maroonage is when a slave flees permanently, sometimes forming communities with fellow slaves out of the reach of the power of the slaveholder society. It is grand maroonage during one of its highest points, the American Revolution, that this digital project will address to help address the lack of public knowledge regarding this important action or resistance of resistance.

To fill this gap in knowledge, my digital project will be a website on North American maroons. In addition to providing simple information about maroons, how they lived, and how the American Revolution provided them the chance to leave their plantations during the chaos of a British invasion, this website will also present information on the maroons in a number of non-textual ways. Using Viewshare my project will include a map, time-line, and perhaps some charts or graphs, to display the locations of maroon communities during this time period, when they existed, how large they were thought to be (if this information can be found), and what happened to them. Integrating this with stories about the maroon communities will create a multifaceted and engaging way of learning about maroons.

A brief examination on both the scholarship on North American maroons and websites dealing with maroons reveals an unsurprising absence. When maroons are mentioned it is generally in relation to Haiti or South America, and this is still a rare occurrence. Since this absence is so great the audience my website will aim for is broad. Educators and students will be foremost amongst who will benefit from this website, but anyone looking to learn more about the American Revolution in the South could benefit from this website. While academics will not be the primary audience, I hope that the maps and charts produced will have utility for an academic audience. Reaching these audiences is the greatest difficulty my project will encounter. Outreach to related historical websites and organizations is the most obvious way of reaching this websites audience, but other ways will be explored during the development of the website.

The most time consuming aspect of this project will be gathering and organizing the information for Viewshare, making it the first priority in my work plan. Once organizing is done, I will input the information in Viewshare and experiment with which visualizations are the most usual. When the Viewshare portion is complete then I will focus on making the website itself using WordPress technology on a domain I will purchase(most likely dream host). Currently I have already done some research on this topic and know many of the sources I will draw upon.

One Reply to “Digital Project Proposal”

  1. Great topic and I think it could make for a great Viewshare view. You are right, the first task ahead of you is deciding on exactly what information you want to gather and how you are going to represent it in a spreadsheet. Specifically, it sounds like each row in your spreadsheet is a individual community. So now the question is, what are each of the columns? I could imagine start date, endate, rough number of residents when at it’s largest size, city and state. Oh, and you probably want to include a descriptive paragraph, and if there is an image or something associated with each one that would make them a bit more compelling, further, if you have any links to other sites or resources about the community you might want to include a related link column. A key question is are there other ways to categorize these? This is, of course, all permitting that you can find this data. So there will inevitably be an interplay here between what you can find and what would be ideal.

    For testing purposes, you can use this spreadsheet from the Viewshare site as a template for thinking about what your data might look like.
    http://viewshare.org/media/cms_page_media/11/fairfax_postcards.xls

    When you have an idea on this, I would suggest that you try and get the spreadsheet working for say 3 or 4 of the communities. Then work through uploading the data and try out building the interface. When you have that little bit of work done you will know a bit more about what is going to be the most valuable data and you can go back and fill in the rest.

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