MILWAUKEE — As part of Black History Month, students at Marquette University are paying it forward, working to bridge the gap between the work of the past and make it accessible for the present.
In honor of the noted civil rights icon’s birthday, February 14 marks Frederick Douglass Day.
At Marquette, students are transcribing documents from conventions from more than 100 years ago, in order to preserve that history for future generations.
As part of the national Douglass Day initiative, which celebrates the power of the famed abolitionist and social reformer’s writings, the message is collective action.
Students take texts by black scholars and activists and make them more accessible, by pulling words from digitized photos of archival documents from the 19th century’s Colored Conventions, one of the longest historical campaigns for black civil rights, and entering them as written text, making them easily searchable online.
“We'll be able to dig in and look at the documents themselves, the physical pictures of them and then also read them and search through them and find things that are important to him or to her. And it's a really exciting way to be able to look through these old vestiges of really important history and to find things that are important to us,” said Elisa Coghlan, Coordinator of Marketing and Outreach, Raynor Memorial Library, Marquette University.
For the last ten years, students at Marquette have been participating in events just like these that are also happening all across the country.
Organizers tell TMJ4 that they hope this is an event that will continue for years to come.