In a little over a decade, historical and contemporary black newspapers have been digitized at a rapid rate. Yet a critical body of scholarship of these newspapers’ impact continues to lag behind the technological developments, which have made these newspapers available to scholars and students.  This dearth, in part, results from insufficient digital tools, which will assist researchers in understanding the geographic scope and social magnitude of the Black Press.  The Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Black Press Research Collective will hold a two-day workshop funded by a NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up stage I grant, on October 10-11, 2014 to discuss the development of mapping and geocoding tools and data visualization authoring programs to assist scholars in producing traditional and digital humanities scholarship on the Black Press. The workshop will bring together key Black Press scholars, digital humanities librarians and scholars, archivists and data visualization experts to develop plans to create data visualizations from select data on the Black Press.

Workshop Schedule


Sherron Bullock (Senior Administrative Coordinator, Center for Africana Studies, Johns Hopkins University)

Kim Gallon, (Assistant Professor of History, Purdue University and Founding Director of the Black Press Research Collective)

Kim Gallon is an Assistant Professor of History at Purdue University.  She is also the founder and Director of the Black Press Research Collective (BPRC) and a visiting scholar at the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University.  She is completing a manuscript titled, “We Are Becoming a Tabloid Race: The Politics of Sensationalism in the Black Press, 1925-1945.”   She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, a M.S. in Library and Information Science at Drexel University and a B.A. from Rutgers-Camden University.

Moira Hinderer (Visiting Scholar, Center for Africana Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Co-Director of the Black Press Research Collective)

Moira Hinderer is a Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University and co-Director of the BPRC.  She was a lecturer and project manager at Johns Hopkins University from 2007 to 2013, and managed an archival partnership between Johns Hopkins and the AFRO Newspaper.  She completed her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago in 2007.  Her work focuses on the history of African American childhood in the twentieth century.

Hollis Robbins  (Director, Center for Africana Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Chair, Humanities Department, Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University)

Hollis Robbins is Chair of the Humanities Department at the Peabody Institute and Director of the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University.  Her work focuses on depictions of law, bureaucracy, and the press in nineteenth century American and African American literature.  Robbins has edited or co-edited four books on nineteenth-century African American literature:  the Penguin Classics edition of Frances E.W. Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy, or, Shadows Uplifted (2010); The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin (2006), co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; In Search of Hannah Crafts, Essays on The Bondwoman’s Narrative (2003), co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; and The Selected Works of William Wells Brown (2006), co-edited with Paula Garrett.   She was previously the Director/Managing Editor of the Black Periodical Literature Project at Harvard’s DuBois Institute.  Robbins holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, an M.P.P. from Harvard University, and a B.A. in the Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins.

Workshop Participants

G. Sayeed Choudhury (Associate Dean for Research Data Management, Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University)

G. Sayeed Choudhury is the Associate Dean for Research Data Management at the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University. He is also Senior Presidential Fellow at the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and Hodson Director at the Digital Research and Curation Center at Johns Hopkins. Choudhury has served as principal investigator for projects funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He is the principal investigator for the Data Conservancy, part NSF’s DataNet program. He is a member of the ICPSR Council and DuraSpace Board. He is also the Director of Operations for the Institute of Data Intensive Engineering and Science (IDIES), based at Johns Hopkins. Choudhury has published articles in journals such as International Journal of Digital Curation, D-Lib, the Journal of  Digital Information, First Monday, and Library Trends.

Mark Cyzyk  (Scholarly Communication Architect, Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University)

Mark Cyzyk is a Scholarly Communication Architect at the Digital Research and Curation Center of the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University.  He has published articles in journals such as Information Technology and Libraries and The Opens Systems Journal.   He has also presented on a wide variety of information and technology topics   He earned his undergraduate degree at Towson State University and Masters degrees at Temple University and University of Maryland-College Park.

James Danky (School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

James Danky is a co-founder of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture and served as its director from 1992-2006.  On the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 1999, his teaching focus on race and media. The author/editor of more than three dozen books including African American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Harvard, 1998), Danky continues to edit the series “Print Culture History in Modern America” for the University of Wisconsin Press.  Danky received an AB in history and philosophy from Ripon College (1970) and a MA in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin(1973). He served as the Newspapers and Periodicals Librarian for the Wisconsin Historical Society from 1976-2007.

Benjamin Fagan (Assistant Professor of English, University of Arkansas)

Benjamin Fagan is an Assistant Professor of English and African & African American Studies at the University of Arkansas. His research focuses on the early black press, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Comparative American Studies, American Periodicals, and African American Review. He is currently completing his first book, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation, which examines how the institutional and material forms of black newspapers helped shape ideas of black chosenness in the decades before the Civil War.

John Gartrell (Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African-American History and Culture, Duke University)

Mr. John B. Gartrell serves as Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University. Mr. Gartrell has served in this position since 2012, and has been a professional archivist for a decade. His primary responsibilities within the Franklin Research Center include: the acquisition of rare book and manuscript collections, the promotion of use of the collections, development of public programing and events, curating exhibitions from collections, and management of research services requests. Prior to arriving to Duke, Mr. Gartrell served as head archivist at the Afro-American Newspapers in Baltimore, MD from 2008-2012. While at the Afro Newspapers, he, along with project manager Dr. Moira Hinderer oversaw the completion of a three year Mellon Foundation grant to launch the Afro Newspaper Morgue inventory online database in 2011 which allows remote users to access the nearly 150,000 file folders in the Afro archives. He received his BA and MA in history from Morgan State University.

James Grossman (Executive Director of the American Historical Association)

James Grossman is Executive Director of the American Historical Association. Formerly Vice President for Research and Education at the Newberry Library, he has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego. The author of Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration and A Chance to Make Good: African-Americans, 1900-1929, he also was project director and coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago. His work in both books utilizes the Chicago Defender which is widely considered to be pioneering in his use of the paper to make arguments about the Great Migration. His articles have focused on American urban history, African American history, ethnicity, higher education, and the place of history in public culture.

Debra Newman Ham (Professor of History, Morgan State University)

Debra Newman Ham is a Professor of History at Morgan State University. She most recently served as advisor on the Diaspora Pathways Archival Access Project which, was instrumental in assisting The Afro-American Newspapers in opening its historic archives to scholars and students.  Dr. Ham served from 1986 to 1995 as the Specialist in Afro-American History and Culture in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, and from 1972 to 1986 as an archivist and Black History Specialist at the National Archives.  Dr. Ham worked as the guest curator of a major Library of Congress exhibit entitled “African American Odyssey: Quest for Full Citizenship,” and as the editor of the exhibit catalog of the same name (1998).  She is the senior author and editor of The African-American Mosaic: A Guide to Black History Resources in the Library of Congress (1993) and the author of Black History: A Guide to Civilian Records in the National Archives (1984).  She also has written a number of book chapters and articles including a seventy-page “Resource Guide,” Columbia University Guide to African American History since 1960 (2006). Dr. Ham received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Howard and her Masters from Boston University.

Rachel Howard (Digital Initiatives Librarian, University Libraries, University of Louisville)

Rachel Howard is Digital Initiatives Librarian at the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections. She received her MLIS from the University of Washington and a BA in history from the University of Notre Dame, and has worked on digital collections for the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Cornell University, University of Washington, and Museum of History and Industry (Seattle). At the University of Louisville, she has overseen the digitization and crowdsourced transcription of The Louisville Leader African-American community newspaper.

Khuram Hussain (Assistant Professor of Education, Hobart and William Smith Colleges)

Khuram Hussain is an Assistant Professor of Education at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He received his Ph.D. in 2010 from Syracuse University’s Cultural Foundations of Education. His scholarly inquiry focuses on the capacity of schooling to both reproduce social inequity and serve libratory ends. His current research deals with the historic contribution of the underground Black press, particularly the newspaper Muhammad Speaks in developing a multicultural counterpoint to the ethnocentric history curriculum of 1960s public schools.”

Elliot King (Professor and Chair, Communication Department, Loyola University Maryland, Administrator of Media History Exchange)

Elliot King is currently chair of the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland, and the founder of the M.A. program in Emerging Media. He is also the executive chair of the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference and the organizer of the Media History Exchange, an online social media network and archive for researchers exploring media issues. He has served as a grant reviewer for the NEH’s National Digital Newspaper program. In addition to hundreds of articles written for the academic, professional and popular press, he has written six books including Key Readings in Journalism (Routledge, 2012) Free for All: The Internet’s Transformation of Journalism (Northwestern University Press, 2010) and The Online Journalist (Harcourt Brace, 1995). He received an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Media Sociology from the University of California, San Diego.

JaZette Marshburn (Archivist, AFRO-American newspaper)

Ja-Zette Marshburn is the Director of AFRO American Newspapers Archives and Research Center. She maintains the historical records of the founding development and growth, philosophy, purposes, significant decisions, activities, programs and policies of the Afro-American Newspaper Company as both a public newspaper of record, private enterprise and institution. Ja-Zette formerly served in archival and historian positions at for the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, Banneker Douglass Museum, David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts of African Americans and the African Diaspora, the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center. Most recently, she has served as the curatorial research associate at the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland University College and a Masters of Library Science degree from University of Maryland College Park.

Christine Murray  (Social Services Data Librarian, Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania)

Christine Murray is the Social Sciences Data Services Librarian at Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, where she assists researchers with quantitative data and geographic information systems.  Ms. Murray earned an AB in Literature from Harvard College and a Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan. For the Black Press Research Collective, she has composed interactive maps of the Chicago Defender’s standing dealer list as well as contemporary black newspapers.

Geoff McGhee (Creative Director for Media and Communications, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University)

Geoff McGhee develops public policy oriented infographics and multimedia at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. Working with scholars, scientists and journalists, Geoff has worked on several newspaper-related digital humanities projects, such as “Mapping Texts,” ( an examination of 180 years of Texas newspapers in collaboration with the University of North Texas,  and a visualization and analysis of the history of U.S. newspapers from 1690 called “Journalism’s Voyage West” ( A veteran of a decade in online news, he was previously a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford, doing research on data visualization in journalism. He has also worked as the multimedia editor at Le Monde Interactif in Paris, and at The New York Times from 2000 to 2008 as Graphics Editor, Enterprise Editor, Chief Multimedia Producer and Video Journalist. He worked at from 1999-2000. McGhee graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 1999.

Scott Nesbit (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Georgia)

Scott Nesbit is an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design.  He earned a PhD in history at the University of Virginia in 2013, where he wrote about the geography of slavery and emancipation in the Civil War South.  From 2009 until 2014 he was the associate director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.  While at Richmond he led digital history projects such as Visualizing Emancipation, which used a wide array of textual sources–including runaway slave advertisements found in southern newspapers–to map out where and when slavery fell apart during the American Civil War.

John “Jake” Oliver, CEO, AFRO-American Newspapers

John J. Oliver, Jr. is the Chairman of the Board, CEO and Publisher of the historic AFRO-American Newspapers. Mr. Oliver served two terms (July 1999-June 2003) as President of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade organization for publishers of Black owned and operated newspapers in the United States. He also served September 1994 –September 1995 as president of the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Press Association, the professional organization of all major newspapers in the tri-state region.  From June1999 through June 2003, Mr. Oliver was the Chairman of the Maryland Higher Education Commission (“MHEC”); the regulatory body empowered to provide curriculum and financial over-site of all the higher education institutions in the State of Maryland.   Mr. Oliver holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee (class of 1969), and a Jurist Doctorate degree from the Columbia University School of Law, New York, NY (class of 1972).


Earnest L. Perry (Associate Professor of Journalism and Coordinator of the Doctoral Teaching program, Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri)

Earnest L. Perry is an Associate Professor of Journalism and Coordinator of the Doctoral Teaching Program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Standing Committee on Teaching and former chair of the Standing Committee on Research. His research interest center on African-American press history, specifically the Black Press during the first half of the 20th Century. He has published articles on history, cross-cultural journalism education and media management in several journals including American Journalism, Journalism History, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator,Journalism History and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. He is currently working on a book project focusing the impact African American newspaper publishers had on their communities and the national agenda during World War II.

Kenvi C. Phillips (Prints and Photographs Librarian, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

Kenvi C. Phillips is the Prints and Photographs Librarian with the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. She received her Ph.D. in US History in 2010 from Howard University. There she focused on Civil Rights and labor. Her current research explores the contribution of the black press in progressive era community building.

Caitlin Pollock, (Digital Humanities Librarian, University Library, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)

Caitlin Pollock is a humanities librarian serving on the IUPUI University Library Digital Scholarship Team. Pollock serves as the liaison librarian to the Department of Philosophy and the Programs of Africana Studies and Classical Studies providing collection development and research instruction. She earned a B.A. in American Culture from Vassar College in 2006, a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute in 2011, and a Digital Humanities from Loyola University Chicago in 2014. She has worked with institutional repositories, developing metadata as well as outreach to faculty members to encourage and facilitate use of the repository. Pollock’s research interests include the role of libraries and librarians in digital humanities research and projects, digital humanities pedagogy, 19th century African American female activists, and the intersection of African American women and institutions of higher education.

Jane Rhodes (Professor and Chair of American Studies, Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Macalester College)

Jane Rhodes is Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and Professor and Chair of American Studies at Macalester College. She earned B.S. and M.A. degrees from Syracuse University, and a Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rhodes specializes in the study of the black press; media and social movements; and African American women’s history. Rhodes’ first book Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Indiana University Press, 1998), was named the best book in mass communication history by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Her second book, Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon (The New Press) was published in Fall 2007.

Amy Smith (Principal, Amy Smith Consulting)

Amy Smith is the Principal of Amy Smith Consulting, a marketing and PR firm based in Walnut Creek, California. Ms. Smith provides public relations, social media, and content marketing services to biotech and life science companies. Ms. Smith leverages her startup experience to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to her work. Ms. Smith is co-owner of Project Gado, a social enterprise that uses technology to digitize and share the world’s visual history. Project Gado has developed the Gado 2, an open source robot that digitizes photographs for small archives, newspapers, photographers, and individuals.  Ms. Smith graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in the History of Science, Medicine & Technology and a minor in Theatre Arts & Studies.

Thomas Smith (Founder and Project Manager, Project Gado)

Thomas Smith is the founder of Project Gado, an initiative which is digitizing and sharing the world’s visual history. At Project Gado, Mr. Smith created the open source Gado 2 archival scanning robot. Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “a robot which rescues black history”, the Gado 2 has been used to digitize 120,000+ images in the archives of the Afro American Newspapers, and is now in use at institutions from California to Finland. Through Project Gado, Mr. Smith works with numerous archives and collections to digitize, annotate, publish and monetize their materials.

Andrew Torget, (Assistant Professor of History, University of North Texas)

Andrew J. Torget is a historian of nineteenth-century North America at the University of North Texas, where he directs a digital humanities research lab.  The founder and director of numerous digital humanities projects — including Mapping Texts, Texas Slavery Project, Voting America, and the History Engine — Andrew served as co-editor of the Valley of the Shadow project, and as the founding director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.  Andrew has been a featured speaker on the digital humanities at Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Duke, and the National Archives in Washington, D. C.  Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, his Mapping Texts project developed new methods for discovering patterns embedded in massive collections of historical newspapers and was featured in the Journal of Digital Humanities.

Chella Vaidyanathan (Liaison librarian for the Department of History, Center for Africana Studies, and the Program in Latin American, Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University)

Chella Vaidyanathan is the Curator of 19th-21st Century Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Department of Special Collections and Archives at the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University. She is also the Academic Liaison Librarian for the Department of History, Center for Africana Studies, and the Program in Latin American Studies.Her responsibilities include building, managing, and assessing print collections and electronic resources for History, Africana Studies, and Latin American Studies. Additionally, she is also in charge of developing 19th – 21st century rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera. She loves working with rare books and teaching classes using materials from special collections as well as bibliographic instruction sessions. Particularly, she is interested in integrating digital primary source materials and Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, Flickr, YouTube, etc. in her classes. She has an MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Arts in Modern European history from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE),  and a Master of Philosophy in History, and a Master Arts in South Asian / Indian history from the University of Madras.

Other Digital and Visualization Newspaper Projects 

Animated Visualization of Arizona Sentinel Weekly, 1872-1911

Chronicling America

Data Visualization: Journalism’s Voyage West 

Historic Newspapers (Library of Congress Flickr pilot project)

Historic Oregon Newspapers

Mapping Texts

Mining the Indianapolis Recorder

NYS Historic Newspapers 

Southern Carolina Digital Newspaper Program

Vermont Digital Newspaper Project

Data Visualization Resources

36 Best Tools for Data Visualization 

A Brief History of Data Visualization 

Journalism in the Age of Data Visualization 

A Quick Illustrated History of Visualization

Visualizing Data