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After Slavery Website

Rating: 3 stars
Used in Course: Not used in course
Submitted by: Shamika Ann Mitchell (Faculty), Aug 10, 2011

Thank you for your hard work and dedication. It is a daunting task to compile all this data. The information is valuable, but I think there are ways to improve the user experience.

The introduction page should specify the time period that is the focus for this study. The terms "post-emancipation" and "post-slavery" are vague; based on the material I browsed, the relevant dates overlap with the Reconstruction Era. However, there are those last few remaining years of the 1890s that need attention, as well. The map data is very useful, but the map also needs some data clarification (date, source, etc.) to make it more effective.  Also, some of the recent information is old.

The online classroom is OK, but it needs to be more engaging - using hypertext, video, photos and audio will be extremely helpful when contextualizing this aspect of history. We take for granted that people know the context of 19th century American ideologies and attitudes, but many, many people make incorrect assumptions, based on their limited knowledge, and the pervasive myths of Antebellum America (like Gone with The Wind). It is absolutely essential that a substantial context is provided, so people can gain a better understanding of the significant obstacles African Americans faced during the later 19th century. For example, just because a white person, Southerner or not, was against slavery, did not automatically mean the person did not have racial biases. Perhaps newspaper articles, speech debate flyers, ads and cartoons will help provide that context. Even among people perceived as their allies, African Americans had to struggle against systematic and institutional racial bias and discrimination.

Also, I did not see much census and Freedmen registry data information. Perhaps I missed it? What about the Gullah population of Georgetown, Pawley's Island and the coast? How do they figure into this historical narrative? What relationships did they have with freed slaves? The intra-racial or intra-ethnic aspects of slave status, color and class are also important to examine, especially in regard to the post-emancipation era.

Technical Remarks:

The site is very easy to use, but the page design, as it is, is very busy and cluttered. The beta website is more streamlined, which is less-distracting. The sizes of the text and the map should be larger. Also, for ease of access, there should be a text to speech option to provide audio for the visually imparied.

Time spent reviewing site: four hours