Ethical Digital Public Histories: Prisoners and the legacy of enslavement 1817-1970

Drawing on digital methodologies, this project explores the histories of formerly enslaved people and their experiences of the US penitentiary system.
Project status

This is an ambitious and inclusive public history project, led by ECRs to create new knowledge frontiers, supported by a multi-disciplinary community which combines expertise and experience from the US and UK.

The lives of formerly enslaved people and their descendants remain largely hidden to researchers and the public. We argue that the criminal justice system, which impacted disproportionally and disastrously on racially-minoritised men and women, produced data which reveals the incarcerated as real, embodied individuals, particularly when innovative digital technologies are employed. We will first create a platform for interdisciplinary debate on the ethical dissemination of digitised prison data, and, second, create a public website which makes available Georgia Penitentiary data 1817-1970. This will allow schoolchildren, undergraduates, descendants of formerly enslaved people, and academics, to access data which was never meant to be revealed to the public, but which is an important part of individual, family, and collective, histories.

Principal Investigator: Dr Katherine Roscoe, University of Liverpool

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