From the colonial days to the present, American history is interwoven with the African American experience. However, many significant events from African American history remain relatively unknown. The Louisiana Slave Conspiracies project is working to make source materials from two slave conspiracies in 1791 and 1795 accessible to interested researchers. A collaborative multidisciplinary team, led by Professor Bryan Wagner in the UC Berkeley English Department, is developing an interactive digital archive of these materials.

Our focus will be the testimonies taken from slaves and their allies in these conspiracies.  We are transcribing, translating, tagging, and collating these testimonies, along with other archival documents related to the conspiracies, for the first time. We want to ground our project in the aspirations and actions of the enslaved, as they are described in their own words.

As part of the project, I am working with Stacy Reardon, the Literatures and Digital Humanities Librarian, and Professor Wagner to manage a team of postdocs, graduate and undergraduate student researchers, and outside consultants engaged in this endeavor.  One goal of the digital archive is to present these French and Spanish manuscripts alongside original transcription and English translation.  

We are developing a website to provide access to these primary materials by scholars and interested public alike. The site will also feature interactive historical maps that will provide location-based access to the collection but will also help explore essential but still unresolved questions about the organization of social relations and the circulation of ideas in these conspiracies. We plan to use geospatial analysis and network analysis to explore new ways to visualize and gain insight into these historical events.

The Louisiana Slave Conspiracies project is generously supported by the Digital Humanities at Berkeley Collaborative Research grant program. Additional support has come from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities; the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California; the University of California Humanities Research Institute; the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities; and the Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University.

To learn more, join us on Monday, February 26 from 12:30-2pm for a talk on our project as part of the Digital Humanities at Berkeley Lecture Series. RSVP here.



Patty Frontiera

Dr. Patty Frontiera is the D-Lab geospatial topic area lead. As such, she develops the geospatial workshop curriculum, teaches workshops and consults on geospatial topics.  Patty has been with the D-Lab since 2014 and served as the the Academic Coordinator through Spring 2017. Patty received her Ph.D. in Environmental Planning from UC Berkeley where her dissertation explored the application and effectiveness of generalized spatial representations in geographic information retrieval.