“Synergies Among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture: An Integrated Research and Training Model” is a $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation built upon two of the University of Maryland’s areas of internationally recognized excellence: African American history and cultural studies and digital humanities. The project aims to strengthen both of these fields and offer new knowledge and understanding to scholars, students, cultural heritage professionals and the public.

African American history and cultural studies offers a broad landscape of research questions and archival collections relating to race and racialization that have not yet been widely engaged by the digital humanities. The thematic focus of the project, African American labor, migration and artistic expression, incorporates the broad intellectual interests shared by a large group of prominent scholars, students and staff on campus, and represents some of the campus’s greatest strengths.

Research projects are in collaboration with The Center for Global Migration Studies (formerly The Center for the History of the New America), which houses the Archive of Immigrant Voices; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora with its collection of over 50,000 objects that chronicle the development and understanding of the study of African American visual culture; and the UMD libraries’ recently acquired George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a preeminent research collection for the study of American labor history.

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) operates as a catalyst and a connector for scholars while providing concrete training and tools to project personnel, the wider UMD campus and other institutions. The initiative uses incubators to introduce scholars, students and cultural heritage professionals to new modes of research through a series of workshops, tutorials and detailed consultations.

The Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy provides an interdisciplinary bridge between departments and centers and facilitates the public facing events, curricular initiatives and websites connected with the project. This includes graduate and undergraduate courses, summer institutes for faculty to diversify and transform curricula, and themed seminar and speaker series.