Projects at the Institute
Academic & Community projects supported by the Public Digital Humanities Institute

The Public Digital Humanities Institute is thrilled to support the following twelve projects. Each project will participate in a week of on-site training followed by a year-long conversation on academic and community collaborations in DH. Learn more about each project and their teams below:

The Black Church Archives Project

The Black Church Archives Project (BCAP) is a digital archives program focused on preserving and digitizing invaluable assets held by Black congregations in North America. Central objectives are preservation and digitization. The work involves digitizing nineteenth and twentieth-century records owned by North American Black Protestant churches and building a web-based archive to preserve them. Understanding African American religious institutions as retainers of civic, cultural, economic, and political material culture, BCAP seeks to: preserve letters, photos, minutes (women’s club proceedings, business meeting notes, etc.), bulletins, recordings, ephemera, and papers that describe the institutions and communities generating them at formative points in American history. This project focuses on churches founded immediately after the American Civil War and 50 years following. In 2015, many began attempting to preserve their histories as part of sesquicentennial and centennial celebrations. Efforts to collect church histories, record elders’ stories, harvest archives from members’ homes, and develop temporary and permanent exhibits will benefit religious and academic communities. During Summer 2022, the BCAP team will: 1) write a report on the state of preservation agendas at three African American churches in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, and digitize a representative sample of artifacts from these sites; 2) build a database of churches in the Twin Cities and surrounding counties with active preservation projects; 3) collect interviews and footage from church leaders, congregants, and local historians to produce short video documentaries.

Timothy Rainey, PhD

Project Director,
Assistant Professor,
St. Olaf College

John J. Cox

Advisory Board Member,
Vermont Avenue Baptist Church

Black Yield Institute, The Vault

Black Yield Institute (BYI) is a Pan-African power institution headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, which serves as a think tank and collective action network to address food apartheid in Baltimore and beyond. The Vault project seeks to create a digital cultural archive of life in Baltimore and to document residents’ collective work toward land and food sovereignty. This archive will be a place to share the important history of the community, and also serve as a platform for political education and liberatory action for the future. The platform will serve as a political organizing tool with the potential to organize and catalyze current and future movements around food sovereignty. The Vault will be a a web-based application that houses several components:

  • Black Life Archive - a digital database of organized transcripts, videos, photographs, articles, and other mediums that will share with seekers historic information about and references to black life and liberation movements with a particular focus on how they relate to food, culture and food sovereignty.
  • Black Liberation Annotated “Contentography” and Lending Library
  • Food Sovereignty & Me - this element of The VAULT will document the ongoing work of BYI in connecting African and African American food cultures and cuisines.

Charlotte Keniston

Associate Director, Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Program,
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Eric Jackson

Servant-Director and Co-Founder of Black Yield Institute, Baltimore, MD

The Chamizal Community Digital Archive

“The Chamizal Community Digital Archive” (CCDA) is a multi-year public and digital humanities project under the sponsorship of the El Paso Chicano/a History & Preservation Project (EPCHPP), with support from The Public Digital Humanities Institute (PDHI). The mission of the EPCHPP is to revise, rediscover, and preserve El Paso’s Chicanx history through education, academic and popular publications, demystification, and activism. The project seeks to return the interpretation of the Chamizal back to the residents who are still living in El Paso, Texas, in Cd. Juárez, Mexico and throughout the United States. Their personal stories, experiences and contributions have been removed from the narratives of the totality of the Chamizal experience. We want residents whose neighborhoods were removed, because of the Chamizal Dispute and subsequent Treaty, to offer their memories and materials for community archiving, community remembrance, memorialization, digital storytelling, oral histories, digital collections, multimedia projects, and data-driven visualizations such as mapping projects. The project’s intended audience is the non-academic community local public, residents, former residents who live elsewhere, as well as anyone interested in the Chamizal international community where numerous communities’ stories have been erased. We want the CCDA to be accessible to anyone interested in adding their personal stories, photographs, oral histories, etc., so collectively, we can compile the Chamizal story in its entirety. This project is significant because it will be most meaningful to the former residents and the descendants of the Chamizal dispute, who are now in diasporic communities on both sides of the USA/Mexico border and throughout the United States and Mexico. The Chamizal story is a bi-national story of the border crossing two separate border communities.

Miguel Juárez, MLS, MA, PhD

Educator, Co-director,
University of Texas at El Paso & El Paso Community College

Maria Eugenia Trillo, PhD

Educator, Co-director, South Valley Academy

Digital Storytelling for Access and Advocacy: “Post-Pandemic” Opportunities at a Philadelphia Arts and Culture Journal

How do we deepen our academic and community collaborations once they are made? How can projects forged during the exigency of community crisis be nurtured in the aftermath? In the summer of 2020, Dr. Kelly George was awarded a grant from the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society for her digital story collection project “Witnessing the Impact of COVID-19 in Disabled People’s Lives: A Web Archive and Community Newspaper Series.” The project has two goals: 1) to contribute to the local historical record of the pandemic through interview collection with people with disabilities, and 2) to engage community members today with stories inspired by these interviews: []( Ms. Alaina Johns, Editor-in-Chief of the online, non-profit arts and culture journal Broad Street Review was one of the project’s ten community partners. As a person who identifies as disabled, Ms. Johns has prioritized arts access as part of BSR’s mission to produce inclusive and accessible arts journalism that reflects the diverse City of Philadelphia. The goal of Digital Storytelling for Access and Advocacy is to use the networks of writers, editors, community media, and disability advocacy organizations that were created in early response to the pandemic to 1) improve and support coverage of the disability community at the local level -- especially in arts and culture writing as this is BSR’s mission -- and 2) create opportunities for writers and editors who identify as disabled, including college students and early career creatives. Over the next year, we hope to fund a series of digital stories at community media outlets like BSR, organize several community conversations with partners, provide mentorship to editors and writers, and build skills in accessible digital storytelling.

Kelly C. George, PhD

Principal Investiator
Assistant Professor of Media & Communication
Immaculata University

Alaina Johns

Writing Mentor and Editor,
Broad Street Review

Manitos Community Memory Project

The Manitos Community Memory Project and Digital Archive (MCMP) is a multi-faceted collaborative initiative to preserve and provide access to the history and at-risk cultural heritage of Indo-Hispano villages across northern New Mexico and their diasporas. MCMP is a project of the Department of Media Arts and Technology at New Mexico Highlands University funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. MCMP’s public humanities component is spearheaded by a growing network of community-based organizations, community archivists, and academic scholars who are developing memory gathering spaces and activities and organizing public programs. Per their wishes, the digital archive will be centralized, inclusive of both community-generated and institutional collections, searchable across collections, usable by communities and academic researchers alike, and administered by the university. The New Mexico Humanities Council Office of Digital Programs is partnering with MCMP on technical assistance and training for community archivists and support for COVID-19 recovery projects. Through internships and class projects, NMHU Media Arts students are creating projects that demonstrate the value of a digital archive to community resilience—in healing from historical trauma, protecting land and water rights and the environment, preserving traditional lifeways, recovering from the pandemic, and providing resources for addressing New Mexico’s new K-12 social studies standards.

Ellen Dornan

Digital Humanities Program Officer and CIO,
New Mexico Humanities Council

Mimi Roberts

Project Manager
New Mexico Highlands University,
Center for Cultural Technology

Mosaic Atlas

Mosaics comprise distinct, unique components that are beautiful on their own. Yet the whole is far more impactful than the sum of the parts. With this vision, Mosaic America and San José State University (SJSU) have embarked on a project to develop a broader and deeper understanding of the diverse communities living in the San Francisco Bay Area. We will interact with over 140 culturally distinct communities to gain insights into their cultural practices, leaders, culture-bearers, artists, and the institutions that serve them. The resulting insights and stories will be presented through the Mosaic Atlas. This interactive geospatial web explorer will offer experiences to deepen our understanding of these communities. It will be a powerful tool to Support the design and delivery of effective programs to marginalized underrepresented communities. Connect potential funders with communities in need. This project unites the cultural expertise and community connections of Mosaic America with the GIS and Humanities scholarship of SJSU to: - Survey and map culturally distinct communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. - Conduct qualitative research with artists about the work and communities. - Curate culturally appropriate content for the interactive atlas. The Cultural Atlas spans technical excellence and creativity with a demonstrated commitment to building bridges across cultures, genres, and geographies. This initiative will identify and promote cultural traditions and proactively highlight BIPOC and other artists living and working in marginalized communities. It will engage youth and LGBTQ+ culture bearers, ensuring each contribution to this atlas honors tradition and raises awareness of culture within the broader community.

Usha Srinivasan

Co-founder and President,
Mosaic America

Judith Heher

Technical lead,
Graduate Student,
San José State University (SJSU)

Indigenous Media Portal

Based at the University of Oklahoma, the Indigenous Media Portal will be an interactive website that co-curates Indigenous media in collaboration with tribal heritage communities. The Indigenous Media Portal will provide access to archival media and newly created media for two audiences: tribal communities and the general public. We will incorporate historic photographs, radio, and other audio media starting with the OU Western History Collections, which contain invaluable oral histories and traditional singing from nearly forty tribes across the state. Building on OU’s strengths in Indigenous film and media, we will also facilitate the creation of new videos to contextualize and complement the archival collections. Through collaboration with tribal communities, we will choose materials appropriate for sharing in a publicly accessible platform, and present them in a way that will support community interests and cultural revitalization efforts. Current project directors include Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), Amanda Minks, Joshua Nelson (Cherokee), and Lina Ortega (Sac and Fox; Seminole), working in collaboration with OU Libraries and the OU Native Nations Center.

Amanda Minks, PhD

Project Co-director,
Associate Professor, Honors College,
University of Oklahoma

Blake Norton

Curator & Archivist,
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center

The Salus Populi US Colored Troops Pension Project

The Salus Populi US Colored Troops (USCT) Pension Project seeks to locate, digitize, and create a publicly accessible repository for the pension files of Missouri USCT servicemen. The project focuses on the seven counties in Missouri's "Little Dixie" (Boone, Calloway, Chariton, Clay, Lafayette, Howard, and Saline). These counties held approximately one-third of Missouri's enslaved population in the decade before the Civil War. Many of the enslaved were among the eight thousand Black Missourians who served in the United States Colored Troopes (USCT). After the war, these servicemen applied for applied for pensions, in the process confronting discriminatory eligibility laws. They called on fellow veterans, neighbors, and family to provide supportive testimony. Their pension files provide critical information about the soldiers’ enlistments, marriages and families, experiences of enslavement, and post-war occupations and challenges. They make visible Black veterans’ complex post-war social networks. And above all, they allow us to study how servicemen and their families remained vigilant in their fight for equality during Reconstruction and beyond. Salus Populi will confront an inadequate local archival infrastructure by making these records available to historians, archivists, librarians, genealogists, educators, and descendant communities.

Riley Sutherland

Graduate Student, University of South Carolina
Volunteer, Clay County Museum & Historical Society

Michelle Cook

Project Founder & Editor,
Research Director of the Slavery, Memory, and Justice Project,
Volunteer coordinator for the City of Liberty Cemetery Committee

Southeast Missouri Historical Collection Platform

In partnership with the Malden Airbase Preservation Society (MAAPS), the Bollinger Center for Regional History and the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University are laying the foundation for an online platform that will provide institutional support and expertise/training to help small cultural heritage organizations throughout southeast Missouri provide public access to their collections and exhibits. In 2022-2023, the project will begin with the digitization of MAAPS’s archival collections, highlighting the history of the Malden Army Airfield and those who served there. Like many small museums, archives, and historical societies in our region, MAAPS cares for rich archival and artifact collections that would be of interest to genealogists, historians, and students of local history. But they do not have the resources to support a significant web presence that connects the public to their historical collections. This project will connect MAAPS volunteers with preservation students and faculty at Southeast Missouri State to help them expand and manage their own online presence with administrative support from the Bollinger Center for Regional History. With the success of this project, we plan to expand the program to include 1-2 more organizations per year for at least five years.

Lily Santoro, PhD

Associate Professor, Historic Preservation Program,
Department of History and Anthropology,
Southeast Missouri State University

Steven Hoffman, PhD

Bollinger Center for Regional History

West Side Sound Audio Archive Project

This project aims to develop an audio archive of the West Side Sound, a genre of music that comes out of San Antonio, Texas’s Black/Mexican/Chicanx working class communities. The West Side Sound is a genre of music largely influenced by R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, swamp pop, and conjunto. San Antonio’s West Side Sound has been written about by ethnomusicologists, and currently Dr. Sylvia Mendoza, in collaboration with a research team, is in the process of collecting oral histories from musicians, fans and community members about their recollections of this music. This digital humanities training, then, would expand this project by providing the opportunity to begin to develop an audio archive of the West Side Sound that would allow for the preservation of this music. During the 1950s and 1960s, bands affiliated with the West Side Sound would record their albums in small local recording studios in San Antonio. These records have since become a treasure trove for record collectors both within and outside of the U.S., causing the price of these albums to increase to prices inaccessible to the communities that created and helped elevate the genre. Rambo Salinas, music collector and archivist, DJ, curator, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Leadership Institute alumni, and manager of Friends of Sound record shop in San Antonio, has a vision of developing an audio archive to preserve San Antonio music and making it accessible to the community, as well as starting a grassroots organization for youth to become trained in audio archiving and radio programming/producing. This institute then would provide the training necessary to begin the audio archive, preserving many of the albums available within Rambo’s collection, and also serves as a foundation for his larger goal of developing a youth radio/archival organization for the San Antonio community into the future.

Sylvia Mendoza

University of Texas at San Antonio

Rambo Salinas

Archivist & Project Coordinator,
Friends of Sound Record Shop

Willie McGee and the Legacy of Legal Lynching

Willie McGee and the Legacy of Legal Lynching is a collaborative project led by Bridgette McGee-Robinson and Jaclyn Nolan. This project constitutes our shared mission to remember the case of Willie McGee, a thirty-six-year-old Black man who was electrocuted to death in Laurel, Mississippi in 1951, for the rape of a white woman named Willette Hawkins. Through the creation of a public-facing website that houses a digital archive and oral story, the project seeks to share, remember, and educate the public about Willie McGee’s case and its lasting repercussions. The project will act as a site of public memory through digitally accessible archival materials, including newspaper articles, letters, and photographs. The project will also feature oral storytelling shared by Bridgette McGee-Robinson, the granddaughter of Willie McGee. This project will invite audiences to gain an understanding of the often unseen, underappreciated or just unknown after-effects of legal lynching. We believe it is essential to share McGee’s story through digital tools because it presents an opportunity to forge racial healing by addressing racial injustice of the past and the ongoing consequences of racial terrorism for families and communities.

Jaclyn Nolan

Department of Communication Studies,
University of Georgia

Bridgette McGee-Robinson

McGee Family Historian

Undocumented Under Covid—Oral Histories

Centering recording of undocumented people on their pandemic challenges, “Undocumented Under Covid—Oral Histories” explores who gets to record the history of their own community. Recording and featuring directly impacted people, this short documentary touches on the many ills, creativity, resourcefulness the undocumented community faced during the pandemic from their own words. This short documentary is led by Comunidad Colectiva, a grassroots group based out of that organizes on behalf of Charlotte, NC immigrant community. The Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative at the National Museum of American History provides advisory guidance.

José Centeno-Melendez

Oral Historian for the Undocumented Organizing Collecting Initiative at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute

Daniela Andrade

Community Support Coordinator,
Comunidad Colectiva