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President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)
Daniel Carpenter (Project Director: July 2011 to April 2017)

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
Preservation and Access

$260,231 (approved)
$234,733 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 6/30/2016

A Digital Archive of Massachusetts Anti-Slavery and Anti-Segregation Petitions

Digitization of an estimated 21,000 pages of antislavery and antisegregation petitions sent to the Massachusetts state legislature during the 18th and 19th centuries.

America's past, present and future are filled with petitions. A host of archived petitions have been signed by tens of millions of Americans over time, ranging from colonial grievances (18th century) to slavery opposition (19th century) to temperance advocacy (20th century). Yet these vast resources are accessible only with great cost and difficulty, and risk physical erosion in the future. The Center for American Political Studies at Harvard, along with associated faculty and library staff, and in collaboration with the Massachusetts State Archives, will conduct a three-year project to (1) catalog and digitize antislavery and antisegregation petitions sent to the state legislature, (2) join these with previously-collected petitions to the U.S. Congress in a database, and (3) create an open-access web site where petition images and data can be used by teachers, scholars, and the wider public. Future projects will add new petitions to the database established by this project.