Digitizing and Using the David C. Driskell Collection

The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, honors the legacy of David C. Driskell. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector, Curator, and Philanthropist, and the Center seeks to preserve the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture.

One page of a letter regarding travel.
Document documenting travel

The African American History, Culture, and Digital Humanities (AADHum) project brings African American studies and digital humanities together in order to expand upon both fields, making the digital humanities more inclusive of African American history and culture and enriching African American studies research with new methods, archives, and tools. Our digitization efforts have been directly focused on supplying new resources for scholarly engagement by providing digitized materials from the Driskell Center for both public use as well as use by scholars engaged with the AADHum project.

In the third digital humanities incubator hosted by the Maryland Institue for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), participants used digitized images from the pilot digitization on this project, as well as from other sources, to build narratives using the ArcGIS StoryMap Tool. StoryMap allows the integration of objects and maps, enabling rich visual explorations and analysis of a collection–for example, where was the art created, where was it collected and displayed, and by whom? In the 2017-2018 series of Digital Humanities Incubators (DHIs), participants will continue to explore Black Movement(s) and engage with the histories and resources of the local DC-Maryland-Virginia area. In some of these projects, we expect the digitized material from the Driskell collection to be highlighted.

African American History and Culture and Digital Humanities

The Libraries began their involvement in the Mellon Foundation grant project Synergies Among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture in May 2016. This project is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Humanities, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), the Libraries, and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. In July, Scott Pennington was hired as the Digitization Project Manager for the project, working with the AFL-CIO collection in SCUA and the David C. Driskell papers, a collection of the artist, scholar, curator, collector, and philanthropist, in the Driskell Center. The project seeks to digitize primary source materials for study by post-doctoral students and other researchers examining the intersection of African American History and Culture.

Scott Pennington, Jen Eidson (SCUA), Stephanie Smith (Driskell Center), Purdom Lindblad (MITH), and Jovonne Bickerstaff (MITH) went through materials looking for items of interest to researchers involved in the upcoming Digital Humanities Incubator sessions to be hosted as part of the larger project. Approximately 1,000 pages were selected for a pilot digitization project and were shipped to the vendor for digitization on November 1, 2016. These materials will be available to researchers and to the public through the Digital Humanities Incubator projects in January, as well as through UMD Digital Collections.

Scott Pennington is currently working with Jen Eidson, Stephanie Smith, and MITH to select an additional 39,000 pages for the full project, to be shipped to the digitization vendor in April.

Samples of content selected for digitization are featured below:

rg21-001_box-8-folder_38-4rg21-001_box-8-folder_38-5rg28-003_box4_folder54-1