The Digital Innovation Lab has teamed up with William L. Andrews, foremost expert on slave narratives, to transform UNC’s Documenting the American SouthNorth American Slave Narratives digital collection into a searchable database of people and places. The database would enable search and analyses within and across narratives and support spatial and network visualizations. This approach would provide additional layers of exploration for scholars and students and could assist genealogists and descendants of slaves interested in tracing their family histories.
Because there are about 275 narratives of varying lengths, our team is employing automation in combination with crowd-sourcing refinement to develop a complete set of names and places. We automatically extracted words that might be reasonably considered proper names and locations (capitalized words). From there, a team of undergraduate students are working to verify whether a word is, or is not, a proper name of an actual person or a location. Locations will eventually be georeferenced so that they can be marked on (historic) maps.