My digital projects explore different types of historical evidence used in the African history discipline.

A photograph of a Hausa trader from 1925 Hausa Trader, 1925: BMArchives

Volta River Commodities

An exploration of internal trade in West Africa by transforming information collected by colonial officials into a digital dataset. In the first half of the twentieth century, colonial officials stationed at preventative stations in the Gold Coast (what is now Ghana) collected information about the movement of people and goods along the colony’s border. The published dataset built from this information contains a total of 7,735 records of commodities that traders carried across the Volta River between 1901 and 1940. The records include quantities for monthly, quarterly, and yearly periods, which reflect the information in the original sources. Where available, the records include a description of the commodity, as well as the location and direction of movement. The dataset is available as a CSV and JSON file on the Volta River Commodities website, which contains contextual information about the history of trade along the Volta River, the archival documents, and the data processing. The website was built as part of the Cultural Heritage Informatics initiative at Michigan State University.

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An image of a port in Dakar during the colonial period Dakar Port: Au-Sénégal

Africa's Imperial Commodities

A digital history project that explores commodity exports from Africa to Europe. The project utilizes available export data from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to interrogate the trade relationships between the two continents. While the export data constitutes the core content of the project, the published website contextualizes the data with webpages about historical sources, individual commodities, and similar digital projects. The webpages about individual commodities discuss the historical changes reflected in the export data and include interactive data visualizations for users to further engage the information in the underlying dataset. The project contributes to digital history by making export data more accessible to students and researchers. Moreover, the project illustrates the importance of the African context for understanding the historical trade relationship between Africa and Europe. The website was built as part of the Cultural Heritage Informatics initiative at Michigan State University.

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A snapshot from the Oral History Methods website Interview Samples: Oral History Methods

Oral History Methods

A prototype digital repository for oral history audio and video recordings. The repository is housed within LEADR’s website and hosted on MATRIX’s servers. The repository uses Omeka Classic as a content management system and the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) application as a tool to index the interviews and their transcripts. Additionally, the site has a series of essays on best practices for oral history collection, with attention to the specific needs of African oral historians. These essays explain the technical considerations and best practices for: recording equipment; data curation; transcription and analysis; and preservation of oral history recordings. The essays show that the technical process of recording is integral to the analytic, scholarly work of oral history. This website was built for a graduate seminar on the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University.

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