Richard Bell is an Associate Professor of History at UMCP specializing in African American history and culture, and will use this opportunity to build a set of digital products (eg. GIS maps, a digital image database, a project website) to support his current research and writing project. That book, The Lost Boys: A Story of Slavery and Justice on the Reverse Underground Railroad, is to be published by Simon & Schuster in Spring 2019. It tells the little-known story of the miraculous escape of four free black children from the clutches of post-revolutionary America’s most fearsome gang of kidnappers and enslavers. The Lost Boys offers a revisionist account of the role of kidnapping in the domestic slave trade in the decades immediately following the American Revolution. It situates black persons at the center of analysis, up-ends simple racial and gender dichotomies, and argues that the kidnapping of free black people into slavery in this critical period was vastly more frequent, pernicious, and politically significant than we have previously supposed.
Dr. Bell is new to the field of digital humanities and will use this opportunity to learn more about the possibilities that digital humanities tools can offer to illuminate, complicate, and disseminate historical scholarship. He hopes that these possibilities might include the capability to make GIS-supported maps of key locales in Philadelphia, Delmarva, the Upper South, and early Mississippi. Dr. Bell also hopes to use digital tools to create an online repository and display platform for relevant images (woodcuts, historical maps, cartoons etc) and to construct a website that can support the book project, and present visitors with additional resources.