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Hi, everyone! I'm DeeDee Baldwin, the History Research Librarian at @msu_libraries. Feel free to get in touch at dbaldwin@library.msstate.edu or follow me here on Twitter. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries My presentation today is about an ongoing research project and website called "Against All Odds: Mississippi's First Black Legislators." The site is available at: much-ado.net/legislators/ #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries The roots of this project go back to 2015 when I was photographing a nearby African American cemetery in Macon, Mississippi. It's a hobby of mine, taking photos for @FindaGrave and @BillionGraves. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves I came across this headstone, flat on the ground, for an Isom Stewart, 1810-1893. Intrigued by the early date, I started researching him on genealogy sites (another hobby of mine). #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves I found that someone had uploaded a cropped image of him from this composite of members of the 1874-1875 Mississippi state legislature. He had been a state senator! loc.gov/pictures/item/… #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves I found myself fascinated by Isom (more commonly Isham) Stewart and started digging for everything I could possibly find in newspapers, books, and even letters at @MDAH_Official. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official Through researching Stewart, I wanted to learn more about all of the black men in that composite photo. I knew a few of the names, but I wondered if most of them had faded into the kind of obscurity that made it so hard to find info on Stewart. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official I decided to create a website where I could document everything I was able to find about Mississippi's first black legislators from Reconstruction through the 1880s. These men's stories should be told, and people looking for info should be able to find it. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official Using Wordpress, I set up a simple look for the site and created a separate information page for each of the 121 men. The pages contain basic info, a photograph if available, newspaper clippings, links, and quotes from books and newspapers. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official To get an idea of what each page looks like, you can check out the page for Isham Stewart himself: much-ado.net/legislators/le… #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official Sadly, there are a few men on the list about whom I've been able to find literally nothing yet. Some had common names and/or were listed only by their initials. Some arrived in Mississippi after 1870 and left before 1880, so the census is little help. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official To get an idea of what each page looks like, you can check out the page for Isham Stewart himself: much-ado.net/legislators/le… #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official This is an ongoing project, and I'm still digging for information. I also enter what I find into genealogy sites so that descendants might have a better chance of finding them. I've even gotten a message from a descendant who was able to help me. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official My hope is not only to aid researchers but to honor these men who were trailblazers in one of the worst possible environments. I'd also love to see similar projects done in other Southern states. #HCTwitterConf19
@msu_libraries @FindaGrave @BillionGraves @MDAH_Official Feel free to email me (dbaldwin@library.msstate.edu) if you'd like a text document of this presentation or just want to get in touch. Thank you to @humcommons for this opportunity! I'll be glad to answer any questions. #HCTwitterConf19
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