Critical Engagement with Historical Data

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This brief presentation will highlight the work accomplished thus far for the recently awarded National Endowment for the Humanities grant, “Enhancing Access and Research Possibilities through Critical Engagement with Historical Data.” This work will ultimately produce a set of open data resources that provide insight and underscore south Florida’s position within our nation’s fraught history of struggle for equity and racial justice. The resources will also expand our collective understanding of the interpersonal networks, community building, and investment by and for Miami’s Black community during the pre-redlining era. Outcomes of the initiative include the development of data resources in the form of text, tabular data, and geospatial assets. The data resources will be based on the archive of Dana A. Dorsey (1868 – 1940). This archive consists of warranty deeds, mortgages, legal documents, and correspondence, which detail the properties and locations of what were the newly created Miami sub-divisions from around 1900 through 1940. Dorsey was regarded as a successful Black businessman of his time and known as the first Black millionaire in Miami. Our work will enhance access to the information found in the papers of Dana A. Dorsey, to highlight community building and make the stories of Black lives more discoverable. This initiative will also help us to better understand the roles of civic groups, trade groups, and community alliances in the paths of success for Black people in this community. The core values of this work include addressing the significant gaps in our historical record, critical engagement in data collection processes that are rooted in humanity through the histories of individuals, and establishing a model for future human centered data work.


Presented at the Global Digital Humanities Symposium, March 15, 2023.

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