Project Design Briefing: Segregation and Civil Rights in Virginia, 1863-1954

I am proposing to create a website that features an interactive timeline of the racial/segregation laws and civil rights events in Virginia from emancipation (1863) to the Brown v. Board decision (1954). I have chosen this time period because it is one that is often glossed over in the history books and our common understanding of the Civil Rights movement and African-American history. 1863 to 1954 is often presented as a rather static period of history with little activism from the black community and uniform efforts on the part of whites to establish oppressive laws. In fact, there are many instances of activism and the white communities often presented varied opinions on the best way to manage race relations. Virginia provides my setting because it is often overlooked in many popular and scholarly studies due to the lack of violent scenes that occurred more often in the Deep South.

The timeline will highlight laws made by the Virginia General Assembly and local councils along with events of black activism. Some of the highlights include the 1902 Constitution that effectively disenfranchised African-Americans, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and the Public Assemblages Act of 1926. The 1939 sit-in at the Alexandria Public Library led by Samuel Tucker is an example of the activism events that will also be featured on the timeline. I would like to include a bank of primary source letters, newspaper articles, photographs, and government documents to accompany the timeline. The related events on the timeline will be linked to the sources but users will be able to access the sources from a side bar menu as well. I want to present the documents chronologically as well as thematically, though I’m not sure how this will look yet.

Below are some of my answers to questions recommended by Jeremy Boggs’s Digital Humanities Design and Development Process, a guide on building digital humanities projects.

Research/Content Sources

  • Jane Purcell Guild, Black Laws of Virginia: A Summary of Legislative Acts of Virginia Concerning Negroes From Earliest Times to the Present
    (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969).
  • J. Douglas Smith, Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
  • digitized copies of segregation laws, relevant photographs, letters, diary entries, etc.
  • local ordinances might be harder to find but they are also on my list

What is the purpose of the site and why is it needed?

  • To fill in a content and digital gap. Many people do not know about many of these laws or the early instances of black activism.

Who is my audience?

  • I’m hoping to appeal to a broad audience of students, teachers, and anyone interested in Virginia’s African- American history. I’d like to include an analytical essay of the site in an about page or something similar. My hope is that this will appeal to historians and help guide the thinking of visitors who may be less educated about the topic.

Tech Resources or Tools

  • Neatline, TimeMapper or VisualEyes seem to be tools that I can use to create the timeline. Most of their examples include a timeline and a map. However, I would prefer a set of images as a background to the timeline.
  • a CMS for the primary sources, probably Omeka for its exhibit builder


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2 Responses to Project Design Briefing: Segregation and Civil Rights in Virginia, 1863-1954

  1. Jenna Scholz says:

    Local history is an often overlooked resource and a project like this seems like a great space to help teach local and state history. I recognize Neatline as a plugin, but am not familiar with TimeMapper or VisualEyes. Is it hard using a non-official plugin in Omeka?

  2. Kate Stein says:

    This sounds like a really interesting project – I particularly like that you are bringing attention to a period of time that is often overlooked.

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