Texas Slavery Project

The Texas Slavery project.

The Texas slavery project[1] examines the growth of the slave population during the nineteenth century in the state of Texas. The project is centred on databases containing information regarding slave and slaveholder populations during the period spanning 1837 – 45. The site is easy to navigate and is well presented with easy to read fonts and  also  offers an interactive tool where users can search maps to research slave and slaveholders population statistics, In addition to this when it comes to the evaluation of the website it is easy to check by using the following criteria as recommended by Kupersmith.[2] The domain of the website is an .org so we know that is a Non-profit organisation and so the website is not looking to make money from its findings. It also has a link on the page about the project which then links of the members of the project and lists their qualifications and authority. These signs indicate that is a valid website and trustworthy.  Furthermore the sources that the site uses are digitised primary sources which can easily be authenticated. The sources the website uses well organised and can be easily found under sub headings such as The Laws of Texas, The James F. Perry Papers and the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas.  In addition to this the project also has primary sources from newspapers during the period, The Telegraph & Texas Register and The Civilian & Galveston Gazette.    The Telegraph & Texas Register has editorials on slavery, the cotton market and news articles regarding the annexation of Texas to the United States.   The Civilian & Galveston Gazette newspaper includes news regarding sugar and cotton production and also has advertisements for slaves.  In addition to this it is also a good source for information regarding the   passing of laws in Galveston restricting movement of African Americans.   Subsequently there is a broad and varied range of sources to aid research.

The project commenced in 2007 and was founded by Dr Andrew Torget who is also the director.  There are four additional members of support staff, however only one of these is an academic historian and at the time of the project was still completing his PhD.  So whilst the project is supported well by technical staff, there are only two members who are academic historians. The project is sponsored by two companies, The Summerlee foundation and The Virginia Centre for Digital History.  Whilst the Summerlee foundation provides financial support it is not a historical institution, and the Virginia centre only provides web and IT support.  So it could be implied that the responsibility for historical accuracy lies with only one person Dr Turget.  In addition to this there are no scanned images of the primary sources but considering that the site is almost ten years old it would have been considerably more expensive to have paid for the amount of storage space required. There are now better compression technologies available today for images, this coupled with superfast broadband means that it is easier to deliver high quality images to a wider range of uses.   Furthermore the site does provide information for the sources so it would not be difficult to find extra information independently.  It should also be noted that the Texas Slavery Project was honoured as a project in digital scholarship at the annual Nebraska Digital Workshop, which was held in October 2007 at the University of Nebraska.  So this illustrates that the project has been professionally recognised by its contemporaries in Digital History.

[1] ‘Texas Slavery Project’, http://www.texasslaveryproject.org/; consulted 18 April 2015.

[2] J.Kupersmith, ‘Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques To Apply & Questions To Ask’. Lib.Berkeley.Edu. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html;/ consultted 30 March 2015.

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