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Ending the 23'-24' Academic Year

Updated: May 8

This year I received Montgomery College's Equity Award.


I am grateful to Montgomery College and the whole Office of Equity and Inclusion (including my colleagues in the President's Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion) for their recognition of my work on campus.


I share this honor with students, colleagues, and people in MoCo's wider community who see the invaluable capacity DEI holds to build brighter futures.


(This baton holds special meaning when I reflect on my won journey to PhD and love of running).




 

Teaching Slavery and It’s Afterlife Through Quantitative Research


Here's the initial results and reflections of my QRiD Fellowship at Montgomery College:


Unnamed Father and Son Reunited, National Anti-Slavery Standard (New York, NY), August 9, 1862.


Overview of the Project:

Students in HIST 235 and HIST 236 gained a quantitative understanding of the history of slavery and its afterlife through the study of “looking for family” newspaper ads in the Last Seen database. Their first three research assignments were supported by lectures that introduced them to the history and historiography of slavery.


As a final project they expanded one of their research assignments by creating an end-of-

semester presentation. Students developed quantitative sources as additional tools of analysis.


Unfortunately, this semester I had several losses in the family so I was not able to facilitate all the workshops. But, what follows is an overview of my initial thoughts about a class project that started in-person with me facilitating student workshops and ended with students and a new professor navigating the workflow that was pre-loaded on Blackboard (our course management system).



The Freeman (Indiana), April 11, 1911.


Initial Results:


The initial results from the close of the semester are promising. I was impressed by the

following:


The way this project encouraged students with a wide variety of skills/academic interests

(including STEM, Humanities, and/or STEAM) to lean into their own curiosity.

Richness of conversations during workshops between students about their research.

Ownership of project and substantive questions students asked about their individual

records.


The following email communication from a student is an example of how the project started.

Some students were oriented to think that their reading assignments in history needed to be long, to be useful. But, through this project they faced the difficult limits of some archives and some archival projects. I used a student’s email to expand the conversation in-class about the scarcity of some sources, economic explanations behind some of these limits, and how historians and other scholars work within these boundaries.


Week 2

Email from Student:

“Hello Teacher , How are you ? I hope everything is fine .

I'm contacting you about the assignment. I'm quite confused whenever I explore an Ad and click on for example former enslaver, I can see many ads but they short to read . How can I open the full text or ad?

Thank you”


My Response:

“I hope you're doing well. All these ads are tiny because people had to pay for them to run in the newspaper. I'm happy to share more in class tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Doc”


"Dennis Holland looking for his father Samuel Holland," The Christian Recorder (Philadelphia, PA), July 6, 1876.


Reflections:


What worked?

o The first discussions were not just rich, but invigorating. Several students who

had not finished the assignment the first time, went back and did so within a week. I did not have another problem with late work afterwards.

o Students were encouraged to think about quantitative data in this project through a range

of ways. The closing presentations show this was time well spent. Example of the types

of work they could do included the following:


-Demographic statistics about the places where ads were published

-Demographics of places where people were enslaved

-Researching and creating spatial graphics of distances travelled

-Unpacking the quantitative stories of the people seeking family and/or those they

are seeking to find family:

How long have people been missing? How old were they when they went missing?

How old are they approximately now?


What can be improved?

  • Add workshop earlier in semester to define quantitative research and provide actual

examples/templates of quantitative graphics.

  • It is clear the students were interested in this phase of the assignment, but I think

the quality of final submissions could have been richer if I gave them more

examples (and/or more time to workshop graphics.)

  • Dedicate more time to explaining how to create captions and citations for the quantitative graphics

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