Thursday, December 12, 2013

Long-awaited Progress


Finally, after more than two years, I have, with the help of a very capable professional, transferred the Register of Freedmen to a spreadsheet. (Seems an easy task, but when your research has gone without funding...). In any case, it's done, and needless to say I feel fantastic about it.

In addition to the mechanics of the transition, our tech expert also painstakingly, and with great interest, reread the original document in order to find any errors in the first transcription. There were a few. Even more importantly, however, she also completed the second phase of the transcription project by adding to the spreadsheet "work classification" and "health classification."

Reaching this milestone will allow me to begin analyzing The Register very closely. There are many questions that can be answered now. For instance, exact numbers of persons who came out of a specific town or county. How many people were considered totally incapable of work vs. the number capable of doing "light work." Having these numbers of freedpeople coming from each area represented in The Register will allow me to begin mapping the movement of African Americans in the Mississippi Valley and, in that way, to create visuals that allow people to better engage history. When I met with my assistant today, these possibilities and others that I have not described had me doing somersaults.

The next phase of the work involves (1) transitioning from a spreadsheet to a full-fledged database and (2) transferring the hosting of the database to my website host, which will allow finally the ROF to become easily searchable.

Spread the word. New changes are coming to The Last Road site. Until the new year, please visit and take a look at the spreadsheet. I have uploaded a zipped version, so you'll have to download it, and I have also highlighted some of the initial questions I will be asking as I begin analyzing this important record with a fine toothed comb.

I hope you'll find intriguing the two "new" columns.

Enjoy your visit.