In an essay as part of the RH Pamphlet Collection, 2021 Exemplary Project Grant recipient Ethan Dickerman (M.A student at the Cornell Institute for Archaeology & Material Studies) walks readers through the background and inspiration behind the Tompkins County Rural Black Residents (TCRBR) project, a digital humanities/public history website.
Making information and historical documents accessible, especially to familial descendants, was a priority for Dickerman: "While people have a right to access certain publicly held documents such as state and federal census records, wills, probates, and deeds are not always easily accessible. People, especially descendants, deserve easy access to data and documents about their ancestors."
The website began as a term project for the Spring Seminar using digital humanities skills Dickerman developed in his undergraduate career. The project required collaboration with community partners at The History Center in Tompkins County where much of the historical documents were sorced for Ethan's website (and corresponding pamphlet).
Dickerman hopes to continue adding to the TCRBR project website and updating his maps as he learns more:
This project is still young but has already identified where people lived, what they did, and where they came from, but this is just the beginning.
Read more in "Remembering Thy Neighbors: The Tompkins County Rural Black Residents Interactive Genealogical Map and Website" embedded below:
Ethan Dickerman's methodology behind the map-making for this project is explored more in-depth online here.
Funded by the initiative, Exemplary Project Grants showcase Cornell student projects and collaborations from the Spring Seminar, specifically those works in the in public and digital humanities.
Ethan Dickerman is an M.A student at the Cornell Institute for Archaeology & Material Studies focusing on historical archaeology in the American northeast.