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Colored Conventions Project

In the decades preceding the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks gathered in state and national conventions to advocate for justice as Black rights were constricting across the country. recovers and shares information about delegates and associated women whose civic engagement, political organizing and publications have long been forgotten.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ph.D., is an award-winning teacher and scholar of African American studies and nineteenth-century literary history and culture. She is the author of Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women Writers as well as scores of highly-regarded articles, book chapters and reviews. She is known for her collaborative scholarly and community engagement work which includes an edition of Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig. She’s currently engaged in an ongoing partnership with Lynnette Overby, Ph.D. and poet Glenis Redmond which has produced performances based on Foreman’s research on Wilson and David Drake or “Dave the Potter.” Her current project is entitled The Art of DisMemory: Historicizing Slavery in Poetry, Performance and Material Culture. Foreman has won grants from the Ford Foundation, the National Humanities Center and the Kellogg National Leadership Program among others. She is professor of Black American Studies, Ned B. Allen Professor of English and a Senior Library Fellow at the University of Delaware. She is the founding faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project and works closely with the graduate student coordinators and the grants committee and also oversees the direction of undergraduate research.

Project Co-Coordinators:

Sarah Patterson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Delaware with a research focus in 19th century African American literary history. Her research examines Black women's contributions to literature, education and print culture. A founding member of the Colored Conventions Project and project co-coordinator, Sarah is deeply involved in strategic planning, curriculum development, assessment and national teaching partnerships. As chair of the pedagogy working committee, she works with undergraduate researchers year round to build the project's archive of historical artifacts. Sarah believes that the CCP sprang from the intersection of African American history and the digital humanities and is a model for teaching, learning and researching in the digital age.

Jim Casey has research interests in antebellum American culture and the digital humanities. In addition to being a HASTAC 2012-2013 Fellow, Jim also served as guest editor for Digital Humanities Now. His dissertation will focus on 19th century newspaper editors as new media figures. Jim was part of the inaugural group that launched the Colored Conventions Project and since then has been deeply involved in all aspects of the project, including the project's implementation of geographic information systems. He is a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Delaware and tweets@jimccasey1.

Project Committee Heads:

Clayton Colmon serves as the director of the grants committee and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Delaware. His research is located at the intersection of Utopian Studies, African American Studies, and Science Fiction Studies; it examines how writers and musicians of color use technology—both real and imagined—to reposition themselves in social discourse. Although Clayton is primarily concerned with contemporary texts, he sees the Colored Conventions Project as foregrounding the lived histories of African-American activists and writers whose individual difficulties with racism, sexism, and slavery have inspired present struggles for equality and freedom.

Jessica Conrad studies nineteenth-century American print and material culture. She is interested in the ways disenfranchised groups used print and material culture to create political subjectivity. Her dissertation asks how boycott and thrift culture literature intervenes in the marketplace by outlining a moral hermeneutics of consumption. A founding member of the Colored Conventions team, Jessica enjoys mining the archive for social networks that animate communities of convention delegates. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Delaware where she helps to create, edit, and manage site content and works with undergraduate researchers.

Library Partners:

Carol Rudisell is a librarian at the University of Delaware Library, and the subject specialist for History, African American Studies, Women's Studies and several other interdisciplinary areas. She holds master's degrees in History and Library Science (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and a B.A. in Psychology (Northwestern). Carol has served on the Advisory Board for the International Index to Black Periodicals and currently edits the African American section of Magazines for Libraries. Her initial involvement with the Colored Conventions Project began in Spring 2012, and the following year she joined the Project's Advisory Board. She enjoys helping students fully engage with research materials, and especially likes advancing digital scholarship within African American studies.

Linda Stein is a reference librarian at the University of Delaware Library with subject responsibilities for English and American literature, comparative literature, theatre and fashion. She received her B.S. in Consumer Services and M.A. in English from the University of Delaware and her M.S. in Library Science from Drexel University. Linda's research interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. She is the co-author of Literary Research and the American Realism and Naturalism Period: Strategies and Sources (Scarecrow Press). She provides assistance to the Colored Conventions Project research team and is the web editor of the library research guides available to CCP participants.

Audrey Hameler is Digital Humanities and Web Services Librarian at the University of Delaware Library. She received her M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel University, and her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Central Florida. She provides assistance implementing design and functionality changes to the Colored Conventions website and its Omeka content management system. In addition to her work at the University of Delaware, she is a consultant Technical Content Specialist working on PubMed Central at the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Faculty CCP Partners:

Colette Gaiter is an associate professor of Visual Communications in the Department of Art at the University of Delaware. She works on graphic design for the Colored Conventions site--advising staff, students and others who make the site work visually. Since starting to make art and design with computers in 1982, and in interactive multimedia since 1990, her work has been shown internationally in numerous galleries, museums, and public institutions. She also writes about activist graphic design, particularly the work of Emory Douglas, artist for the Black Panther Party. "All Power," her video about Douglas’s work, was shown in the exhibition Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970.

UD Faculty Teaching Partners:

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Black American Studies and Department of History at the University of Delaware. She has recently participated in several documentaries, including "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment" and "The Abolitionists," an American Experience production on PBS. In 2011, Professor Dunbar was appointed the first director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia. She has been the recipient of Ford, Mellon, and SSRC fellowships and most recently has been named an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City was published by Yale University Press in 2008. Dunbar's newest book project is titled, Never Caught: Ona Judge Staines, The President's Runaway Slave Woman.

Jean Pfaelzer, Ph.D., is author of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans and four other books including Parlor Radical: Rebecca Harding Davis and the Origins of American Social Realism and The Utopian Novel in America: The Politics of Form. Driven Out was named one of the 100 notable books of the year by the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Top Ten Books of the Year by Choice, and she was named Asian American Hero by Asian Librarians Association. She is on the Scholars Council of the National Women's History Museum. Pfaelzer is working on two forthcoming books Of Human Bondage: Slavery in California and completing Muted Mutinies: Slave Revolts on Chinese Coolie Ships. She has served as Chair of the International Women's Task Force, on the International Committee of ASA, and the Women's Committee of American Studies Association. She is a professor of English, Women and Gender Studies, and Asian Studies at the University of Delaware where she teaches from an interdisciplinary perspective in her specialties: Nineteenth Century American Studies, American Realism, American Women Writers, Asian American Culture and History, The Culture of Work, Feminist Theory, and Utopian Culture and Theory.

National Faculty Teaching Partners:

(Symposium Co-Sponsor, Spring 2015)

Kimberly Blockett, Ph.D., is associate professor of English Department at Penn State Brandywine where she enjoys teaching literary theory, African American literature, American studies, and civic and community engagement courses. She recently completed research fellowships with the Smithsonian Institute and the Ford Foundation to work on her book in progress, Race, Religion, and Rebellion in the 1800s. She is also working on an edited volume on 19th century evangelist, Zilpha Elaw. A Philadelphia resident since 1999, she enjoys exploring the city and surrounding areas and feels very privileged to live in a place so rich in American and African American history.

Joycelyn Moody, Ph.D., is the Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she teaches courses on African American literature. She served as Editor-in-Chief of African American Review from Fall 2004 through Spring 2008. She has taught at several institutions, including the University of Washington, Saint Louis University, Hamilton College, and the Harvard School of Divinity. Besides articles and chapters, her publications include Sentimental Confessions: Spiritual Narratives of Nineteenth-Century African American Women and Course Guide for The Norton Anthology of African American Literature 2nd ed.

Ivy Wilson, Ph.D., an associate professor at Northwestern University, teaches courses on the comparative literatures of the black diaspora and U.S. literary studies with a particular emphasis on African American culture. His book Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Nationalism interrogates how the figurations and tropes of blackness were used to produce the social equations that regulated the cultural meanings of U.S. citizenship and traces how African American intellectuals manipulated the field of aesthetics as a means to enter into political discourse about the forms of subjectivity and national belonging. Along with recent articles in ESQ, Arizona Quarterly, and PMLA, his other work in U.S. literary studies includes two forthcoming edited books on the nineteenth-century poets James Monroe Whitfield and Albery Allson Whitman. His current research interests focus on the solubility of nationalism in relationship to theories of the diaspora, global economies of culture, and circuits of the super-national and sub-national.

Daina Ramey Berry, Ph.D., is an associate professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Berry is a specialist in the history of gender and slavery with a particular emphasis on the social and economic history of the nineteenth century. She is author or editor of Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia and Enslaved Women in America: An Encyclopedia. Berry has appeared on several syndicated radio and television shows including “Who Do You Think You Are?” On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians, she co-authored “An Open Statement to Fans of ‘The Help’.” She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She enjoys mentoring students and junior faculty and has always participated in public history programs on slavery through collaborative work at museums, historical societies, churches, and K-12 summer institutes. Berry will join the Colored Conventions Team when she finishes her NEH fellowship and her book, The Price for their Pound of Flesh.