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2017 Projects


"Conceptions of Race in the Encyclopedia Britannica"


In March of 2012, the Encyclopedia Britannica ceased printing paper editions of its handsomely bound reference books. The Encyclopedia Britannica, first published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1768, remains the oldest English language encyclopedia in continuous production, but it will only be updated through its online offering in the following years. In the era of community based online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, now is an interesting time to reflect on the content of the complete print run of the Encyclopedia Britannica. This also represents an interesting moment to reflect on how past systems of defining general knowledge has worked to shape societal prejudices, beliefs, and assumptions. At this early stage of our research, this project will use techniques related to large scale text analysis through Natural Language Processing (NLP) to chart and track the evolution of popular conceptions of race and racialization across all 15 editions of the encyclopedia released over its 244 year history.

“From Slavery to the Sorbonne: Digitizing a Lifetime of Activism – The Anna Julia Cooper Papers.”

This collaboration between Howard University and Penn State University will support the digitizing of the Anna Julia Cooper Papers held at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) at Howard University in Washington, DC.  The digitized files will be made available through the Digital Howard website and selected items will be featured in an online exhibition. This project will serve as the foundation for a larger multi-institution effort to create a digital repository and resource documenting the complex and extended forms of black women’s activism, focusing specifically on black women’s intellectual and activist work in the late nineteenth century, in what is known as the Black Women’s Club Movement. Because of the degree to which Anna Julia Cooper’s story is representative of a great many other of her contemporaries in the movement, digitizing the Anna Julia Cooper Papers serves as the ideal starting point from which to lay the foundation for the larger project.  This first step will help make Cooper’s work accessible to a global audience of scholars and researchers and will lay the foundation for the construction of a more robust picture of nineteenth century black women’s publishing and ongoing intellectual and activist work.  The project team includes Shirley Moody-Turner, principal investigator (Penn State University); Adrena Ifill, (DoubleBack Global Group); Joellen El Bashir (Howard University Libraries and MSRC); Lopez D. Matthews (Howard University Libraries and MSRC); and Kathryn Gines (Penn State University).