Guest Talk by Samantha Gilmore (University of Nebraska-Lincoln): Digital Indigenous Periodical Archives and Data Bases, Jan. 16, 2024

Date: January 16, 2024

Time: 6-8pm

Place: Philosophicum II 02.102, (Besprechungsraum) Obama Institute, Philo II, Jakob-Welder-Weg 20

As part of the “Advanced Research Seminar II: Indigenous Periodicals: A Print Media Anthology Project,” Samantha Gilmore from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will join us to give a talk on Indigenous Digital Archives and Databases. Samantha Gilmore is a doctoral student, concentrating on Nineteenth Century Studies and Digital Humanities, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her scholarship focuses on early-to-mid nineteenth-century American literary and historical studies, archival research, and manuscript culture. Her dissertation analyzes short-lived early American periodicals from 1765 to 1865. Samantha holds a B.A. in English from Penn State University and a M.A. in English from West Virginia University, where she taught first-year composition and research writing. Currently, she works as a teaching assistant in the English department and as a research assistant for The Walt Whitman Archive and The Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive at UNL, as well as for The Almanacks of Mary Moody Emerson: A Scholarly Digital Edition with Northeastern University’s Women Writers Project.

This course in Indigenous periodicals is made possible in part through the digitization of Native serials and archives, but as we benefit from these collections, we must consistently evaluate the practices of digitizing these materials. For over a decade, calls for postcolonial digitizing practices, from scholars like Roopika Risam and Siobhan Senier, have loudly urged digital humanists to consider not only the materials they hope to digitize but their own roles in upholding Euro-centric ways of knowing. These practitioners determine what should and shouldn’t be shared, but should they? What is an ethical archiving practice under an enduringly colonial condition?

With Indigenous periodicals, we tend to believe that communities were consulted on what information was printed and shared—or at least, that published materials are more open to sharing than, say, manuscripts or artifacts. But in this class, you have learned how colonialism has played a role in print through missionary papers and boarding school magazines. In some ways, we can see how little agency Indigenous people had in these portrayals of themselves, but in other ways, we see the periodicals act as venues to take back this agency, to represent themselves in their own terms. The same is possible in the projects that digitize these papers. Let’s pause to identify some ways to decolonize digitization, reconsidering the methodology of some of these digitization projects. While all work toward providing the materials to students like ourself, there are differences between projects like Newspapers.comAmerican Prison Newspapersthe Yale Indigenous Papers Project, and the American Indian Digital History Project. In this talk, I will identify some decolonizing digital methods, and I will ask attendees to evaluate and discuss the practices of several digital archives and databases.