Black @ Barnard Research to uncover the legacies of Black Barnard students

WEEK 1: Plan

Gather information through secondary sources of why this research is so important

Discovered how this project should not be focused on the obstacles of Black students on campus but also the successes of Black students. Project should aim to focus on both.

Gathered information about the history of the archive and what a project like this does for the Black community and the archival community at large.

Started collecting and gathering the names and addresses of Black Barnard students who have graduated from the classes of 1929-1960

To the left: Page 189 of Barnard College Mortarboard 1928. Note: Zora Neale Hurston does not appear in the mortarboard.

WEEK 1: Limitations

I wasn't able to perform at the speed of documenting all the names within a week. It was discovered that the mortarboards are highly racist and exclusionary. When Zora Hurston graduated with the Class of 1928, she was not pictured in the mortarboard. There were large gaps of Black students in the mortarboards from 1928 to the 1960s.

This type of work is very difficult for me as a researcher given my own identity. Sometimes, it is difficult to process some of the exclusionary practices that this school has implemented against Black students. Sometimes, it is important for me to take breaks from the the research to process the information collected and my emotions.

http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:yearbook-1928#page/1/mode/2up (pg. 155)

WEEK 1: Findings

Many scholars write on the identity of Black women in the archives. In This [Black] Woman's Work: Exploring Archival Projects that Embrace the Identity of the Memory Worker, researchers write that there is a certain way to dignify the way that Black women should have their lives remembered.

Bergis Jules writes on the failure of preserving the legacies of marginalized people in the archives. These findings of scholars are very important because this research will help give me a blueprint on how I collect data.

Since it is difficult to tell who was Black from the mortarboards (and highly unethical), I went through a lot of transfer documentation from different Historically Black Colleges & Universities. I realized that Zora was a transfer student from Howard, thus there had to be other Black students coming from Historically Black Colleges & Universities. I printed a list of all HBCUs and scanned through the transfer index cards and gathered the names of students who transferred from HBCUs. This helped me gather more names of Black students who attended Barnard.

To the right: Theaster Gates and artists at the Dorchester Project via https://medium.com/on-archivy/confronting-our-failure-of-care-around-the-legacies-of-marginalized-people-in-the-archives-dc4180397280

Screenshot of collected names from early Black Barnard students


The goal this week is to continue work on the name collection of Black Barnard students. This will be done through the identification of Black students in the mortarboards. (See Week 2: Limitation for more information about the ethical nature of this process.)

In addition to identifying Black students via the mortarboards, I am also in the process of identifying Black Barnard students via the Barnard Bulletin which is available through the Archives' digital collections. I've also used Columbia newspapers and magazines and scholarly articles written by other researchers who have studied this topic.

Also, I will also met with Professor Robert A. McCaughey to discuss his research on this subject.

WEEK 2: Limitations

The process of going through the mortarboards has presented ethical dilemmas and limitations. Information must be cross-referenced. Defining Blackness may not be a desired but may be necessary in identifying students.

By retrieving information through the mortarboards, information on majors and home addresses are not collected each year, and I will have gaps in my data. I will be challenged in creating a comprehensive map.

Photo to the left: A page from Soul Sister, March-April 1992. Eno Jackson recounts the limitations of her time at Barnard.

WEEK 2: Findings

I collected more names of Black students using the mortarboards. This information was collected through identifying phenotypical features. I have collected names from 1928-1944 and 1994-2013. I collected names and majors from 1994-2013.

By cross-referencing names in other artifacts, I have been able to gather information on different archival documents that relate to Black student life on campus. For example, Soul Sister, a Black student publication that is filled with articles, letters, photos, poems, etc.

As I crossed referenced many of the early Black students with internet searches, I was able to see that Black students came to campus through the diaspora. Additionally, many of the early Black students of Barnard were well recognized within the Black community in NYC and the world at large. Many of these students had a profound effect on society.

WEEK 3: Plan

Finish collecting names from the mortarboards of all Black students for the spreadsheet.

Cross reference names collected from the mortarboard with information built upon by other researchers (i.e. Prof. McCaughey). Find consistencies and inconsistencies and explore the inconsistencies in depth.

Start putting together photos, letters, articles, and pictures of Black student life at Barnard on a Pinterest board. Through Pinterest, people have the ability to easily access the photographs and artifacts. (Find link to Black @ Barnard Pinterest in Week 3: Findings)

WEEK 3: Limitations

The ethical issue of the mortarboard persists. Cross referencing with other work from researchers and archival material has proven successful. Understanding who is Black and who is not makes me very uncomfortable. Analyzing a student's photo feels like I am dismissing a student's intersectional identities. To combat this issue, I am being open and honest about my method and seeking cross-examination to help understand the amount of students and who they are.

The names in the mortarboards do not always appear with majors. I have to go back and look at the mortarboard directory to link names to majors and add that to the spreadsheet.

Establishing what Black identity is, is very difficult. I must use secondary research to build a working definition of how I am viewing Black identity for this project.

School Assembly

WEEK 3: Findings

I have finished inputting the names of Black Barnard students gathered from the mortarboards. BUT, I recognize that this information is still incomplete and may have inconsistencies. Cross-referencing will continue into the Week 4 (Look at Week 4: Plan).

I have created a Pinterest board that builds images, photos, articles, newspaper clippings, and etc. to showcase many of the artifacts I am looking at (Pinterest Link).

I found that by place-mapping early Black Barnard students to home location gives more information about a student's identity and help with understanding a student's racial identity. Given the redlining and urban segregation policies of United States History, an address gives me an understanding of who may be Black from 1928-1970. I used this method to cross-reference many names

I went to the Sherry Suttles interview about the late 1960s hosted by the Barnard Archives for the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1969. Attending this interview gain insights into what Black student life felt like into the late 60s.

Week 4: Plan

Continued cross-referencing names gathered from the mortarboard.

Interviewed past researchers who have researched this topic to see if they have any information.

Start building timeline. Document events that took place in history that affected the world, American life, Black life, and student life (and find the intersections of this data).

Week 4: Limitations

I have to go back to the mortarboard to get majors and addresses for the names gathered, to make the map. This is will be a very time consuming process. I will gain access to this information via the yearbook. There must be a way to code this information to easily input it in the Google sheet.

The timeline will always be a working timeline. Therefore, the timeline will forever be unfinished. It is not meant to stay stagnant. Thus, it is a never-ending project. Additionally, I don't know how students were reporting these addresses. Many of the addresses could be either home addresses or addresses post-graduation.

Many people have not responded to requests regarding interviews.

WEEK 4: Findings

Many early Black Barnard students documented their addresses. But many Black alums did not report an address post-1990. From 1976 to 1991, there was an increase of alums omitting address.

I've been able to cross-reference many names with addresses from the mortarboards. Since United States' history was so segregated and laws of Jim Crow persisted from the end of the 19th century into the mid 20th-century, I have been able to place-map students to historically Black neighborhood.

Screenshot of home addresses of early Black Barnard students

WEEK 5: Plan

Continue adding to the address book. Compile names of students, addresses, cities, states, and zip code. This information will be useful to input into ArcGIS to create maps.

Add Mortorboard photos to Pinterest folder. The goal of this Pinterest folder is to create another digital archive of Black student life @ Barnard. I also want the Pinterest folder to be a way for viewers to visualize student life.

Analyze ways to visualize the project after data collection is completed. Project mapping may helping.

WEEK 5: Limitation

TIME: I would like to finish data collection in mid-July. This means that I need to have completely finished address book, have listed all Black students, and have completed the timeline. This is a very ambitious task. Work on the timeline will continue into week 6.

Self-made concept map of different resources to visual project

WEEK 5: Findings

I went on a tour of the Milstein Center to see the resources offered by different departments. This was very beneficial because I was able to see how I could showcase the project through SO MANY different mediums. On the concept map, you can see all the department. Ideally, I would like to utilize each department because I believe that people analyze information in different ways. Since, I would like this project to be accessible to many students, the variety of medium could be quintessential.

I did some more project-mapping for Black @ Barnard. This was so useful because I was able to highlight and figure out the things that I believed were crucial to the project (accessibility, shared experiences/stories, space). With this map, I could see how everything connected.

WEEK 6: Plan

Continue work on the timeline. The timeline will list events in history that were global, U.S. centered, city/state specific to New York City. Since the major goal of this project is to situate Black Barnard students during the time periods at which they existed on campus, I will list the reactions that the college had with different events. Hopefully, this will help viewers analyze and get a feel of what Black Barnard students had to deal with while on campus during different time periods.

Retrieve information for the timeline using different sources. History.com, Blackpast.org, wdl.org, etc. I am trying to gather information from many different platforms. (see limitations for more information).

Continue project mapping to aid the development of a research question. Project mapping has helped me find the connective tissue of my goals and vision.

WEEK 6: Limitations

Timelines are extremely biased. Timelines are curated, thus the curator is responsible for crafting a timeline with information they believe is crucial for understanding a subject matter. I must be cognizant of what I am inputting and omitting from the timeline. I also need to understand how each event relates to the each other to understand the challenges and successes of Black students on campus.

Given that I have to be very conscious of how the timeline is curated, I often get distracted by how much time I spend on analyzing different events. Since time is a limitation for this project, I need to cognizant of how much time I spend on each event.

Week 6: Findings

I decided to curate my timeline with a focus on the 1960s and the events on campus. It is impossible to gather all the events I would like to add, so I want to stay focus on adding events that may have affected student life on campus for Black students.

I realized that I would like to use Scalar to create a website that could be accessible to the student body, faculty/staff, and general public. Scalar will be a great medium for me display embedded maps, timelines, and graphs that help portray information.

Week 7: Plan

The DH Summer Institute met this week to have a Zotero workshop. This workshop was a great catalyst to help me start understanding how I organize my sources. Given that this project is facilitated with a basis in archival sources, it is important that I stay organize. Zotero should be organize all of my sources.

I need to continue work on timeline. The timeline needs to also be broken into category. This will help viewers understand how different forces may have shaped the Black experience on campus.

I need to diversify the types of information I have on the timeline. I need to look at global factors, New York factors, etc. to understand the large scope of findings to come from this project.

Week 7: Limitations

Given that I have been saving much of my information via the bookmark bar, I have started to shift my sources to Zotero.

I stepped away from my research for a week for a pre-professional program. This has set back my timeline curation process. I will continue adding events in Week 8. See Week 8: Plan.

Finding Barnard events/reactions to global or United States happenings is very difficult. I have to make inferences based on events about what the Black experience is like. I also find myself spending a lot of time looking to the each event, especially Barnard specific events/reaction.

Week 7: Findings

I have found more information about the historical legacies of the Barnard/Spelman exchange program. This program was started to help white students at Barnard understand segregation. To understand this racist historical process, Barnard students traveled to the South.

I established 7 different categories of how to classify events: U.S. History, Black History, Cultural History, Institutional History, NYC History, Barnard History, and World History. Events in U.S. History. See Scalar Project in the near future for how I categorized each event.

Week 8: Plan

Continue work on timeline. Focus more events that have on the 1960s. The 1960s was represented a peak increase in Black admittance. The 60s also represents the height of civil rights and Black student activism.

Start to cross-reference Barnard population statistics with physical archives.

Week 9: Plan

Start working on project paper. The paper will help guide the Scalar website. I would like to start figuring out ways to make Scalar very user friendly and accessible to everyone who comes in contact with the project. Fortunately, the DH Summer Institute will be hosting a Scalar workshop. I am hoping to navigate through some of the challenges I may experience when I interact with the software.

Continue working on timeline. Go back through events and find Barnard reactions to the event. See if there are any correlations between categories and Barnard History. Search different events on Barnard's digital archives.

Start search on figuring out the best interactive mapping software.

Created By
Corinth Jackson

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