I spent an inordinate amount of time this week looking at the numbers of books and articles written about blacks in different time periods. It was frustrating because I couldn’t replicate earlier searches that I’d done. Also, using consistent search terms, in order to ensure that I’m ‘comparing apples with apples’ doesn’t make sense. While in the 20th century, I could search for ‘blacks’ or ‘coloured’ or ‘colored’ or ‘african american’, these terms wouldn’t find any matches in the 18th century. There is also the problem of searching for words in French, which I also did. Then there is the issue of what is considered ‘history.’ If I include the word ‘history’ in a 20th century search, that might well turn up documents about black history. But in the 18th century, black history was not a subject, so writings about blacks tended to be reports and news articles. All that to say that, eventually, to make my point, I did what most students would do and quoted an expert on black history saying that black history has been buried. I’m sure this would be a worthy subject to pursue – confirming the absence or ‘burying’ of black history – but it is not the main subject of my present study.
As planned, I have now gone back to my exhibit. I’ve got a plan for my exhibit structure. I spent quite a bit of time looking for images and now have a fairly good selection. They represent the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s. They also represent British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. And they represent various migration patterns, including blacks who came from Portugal, Jamaica, and the United States, both free and slave, and those who were brought by others and those who escaped and came on their own. I also have different kinds of materials, including text documents, maps, paintings and photographs – and word clouds. All up, there are 18 items.
So far, my earliest artifact is dated 1734. I would love to get something from the 1600s and will spend time this week looking for that. I also presently only have three from the 1900s, and there are lots to choose from, so I may pull in a few from that period. But first I need to think about what kind of message I’m trying to send with the 20th century images. I also want to spend some time on the essay, if I can.