Many people from Louisiana and around the world have made the transcribathon project possible by contributing their insights as volunteer transcribers and translators, their ideas about the colonial records at the Louisiana Historical Center, and their time and labor as caretakers of this collection. Some of the members of the transcribathon project team introduce themselves below. If you are or have been involved in this project and would like to share your name and details, please email email@example.com. We would be so happy to hear from you!
HANDY ACOSTA CUELLAR is a PhD Candidate in Latin American Studies at Tulane University. He holds a master’s degree in Romance Languages from the University of New Orleans. Handy is passionate about using digital humanities in teaching and the potential of archival digitization in public history. He believes that both are powerful tools to promote the open use of data by experts and non-experts. For him, the Transcribathon as a concept and project provides a great opportunity to the greater community to come together and participate in the democratization of archival data. Currently, he is working on his dissertation about the impact of copper mining in Cuba during the seventeenth century. More broadly, Handy is interested in the power dynamics behind the production, circulation and creolization of mining and metallurgical knowledge in the Early Modern world and the emergence of modern science.
RAÚL ALENCAR is a Ph.D. student of the Department of History at Tulane University. He’s interested in social and commercial relations in the Early Modern Atlantic World. His current dissertation focus on the making of connected histories between the merchants of Colonial Peru and France during the geopolitical and commercial transformations of the Atlantic (1700-1760). Due to his familiarity with French and Spanish colonial documentation, his involvement in the New Orleans Jazz Museum’s Transcribathon has allowed him to help with the organization of the event.
MICHELLE BRENNER co-directs the Transcribathon event. She co-manages the Donald M. Marquis Reading Room which facilitates both the New Orleans Jazz Museum Archive and the Louisiana State Museum Historical Center Archive. The Reading Room is where researchers can access the New Orleans’ French Superior Council and Spanish Judiciary Colonial Documents. Michelle holds a Masters of Preservation Studies from Tulane University’s School of Architecture and an undergraduate degree in History from Radford University. She was raised in Virginia and moved to Louisiana to continue her studies. Michelle is eager to continue the preservation of Louisiana’s built and material history through community engagement and hopes the continued transcribathon efforts will make the documents more accessible to researchers of all kinds.
EMILY CLARK is Clement Chambers Benenson Professor in American Colonial History at Tulane University. She specializes in the French Atlantic and circum-Caribean. She is the author or editor of five books, The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World (UNC Press 2013) and the multiple prize-winning Masterless Mistresses: The New Orleans Ursulines and the Development of a New World Society: 1727-1834(UNC Press 2007), Women and Religion in the Atlantic Age, 1550-1900 (with Mary Laven, Ashgate, 2013); Voices from an Early American Convent: Marie Madeleine Hachard and the New Orleans Ursulines, 1727-1760 (LSU Press 2007, and New Orleans and Saint-Louis, Senegal: Mirror Cities in the Atlantic World (with Ibrahima Thioub and Cécile Vidal, LSU Press, 2019). She is currently at work on the biography of Noel Carriere, the commander of the New Orleans free black militia. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Louisiana State Board of Regents, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Pew Foundation.
Professor Clark has conducted research using the French and Spanish colonial records held by the Louisiana State Museum for more than twenty years. She was involved in securing the National Endowment for the Humanities grant that supported the digitization of these documents and co-edited, with Greg Lambousy, a special issue of Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archive Professionals, “Atlantic World Archives of Louisiana,” 11.03 (August 2015).
She regularly uses scans of documents from the colonial collections at the Louisiana State Museum in her undergraduate teaching, but the challenges of the paleography limit the ability of students to engage these wonderful records as much as they might. She’s excited at the potential of the Transcribathon to change that.
JENNY MARIE FORSYTHE built and co-manages the Louisiana Colonial Documents Transcribathon From the Page project site and NOLA Jazz Transcribathon project blog. Jenny grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, on Cherokee/Muscogee Creek/+++ land. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and a master’s degree in Letras Latinoamericanas from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and she teaches French at Western Washington University. She first learned about the museum’s vast collection of French and Spanish colonial documents in 2013, during a one-month summer internship with the Colonial Documents Digitization project. This experience continues to inform her current research projects, which explore the relationship between history and translation in the early modern Hispanophone and Francophone Transatlantic. She hopes that participating in the transcribathon project will teach her more about collective translation and will bring a wider audience to the museum’s extraordinary collection of colonial records. She believes Gayatri Spivak said it best when she defined translation as “the most intimate act of reading.”
GWENDOLYN MIDLO HALL is a public intellectual and professor who studies histories of enslavement in Latin America, the Caribbean, Louisiana, Africa, and the African Diaspora. In the 1980s and 90s, Prof. Hall and her team of researchers created The Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy (1719-1820) Database. They used archival documents from Louisiana, France, Spain, and Texas to compile information on the background of some 100,000 people enslaved in 18th and 19th-century Louisiana. Her publications include the path-breaking work Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century and Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links (2005). Prof. Hall shares her reflections on 18th-century Louisiana Judicial Records HERE.
As a genealogists and family history researcher, MICHAEL N. HENDERSON has uncovered numerous documents in the Louisiana Historical Center’s Colonial Records. One such document was critical to Henderson becoming the first African American in Georgia inducted into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution. As a result, he wrote his award-winning memoir Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation. A native of Algiers (a suburb of New Orleans) and graduate of Xavier University, Henderson credits much of his early research to these documents, and lauds the transcribathon as a critical project to explore and expose these documents to uncover the life and activities of Creoles of color and others in colonial Louisiana.
GREG LAMBOUSY is the director of the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Prior to accepting this position, Lambousy was Director of Curatorial Services for the National World War II Museum. He began his career at the New Orleans Museum of Art and later moved to the Louisiana State Museum (LSM). During his twenty-year tenure at the LSM, Lambousy managed the institution’s collections of more than 500,000 artifacts and other historical items, directed improvements to collections storage, developed conservation and digitization projects across collections and within the Louisiana Historical Center archives including the Louisiana Colonial Documents Digitization Project. As director of the Jazz Museum, Lambousy is encouraging exploration of the connections between community programs, New Orleans music history and the colonial records.
JENNIFER LONG is co-directing the Louisiana Colonial Documents Transcribathon and is the Digital Assets Manager for the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Jennifer’s background has always revolved around her love of the arts and museums, from a degree in Fine Art from the University of Kansas, Art History at Portland State University and Museum Studies from the Università di Bologna, Italy. She began working on the Colonial Document Project in late 2013 till its completion in late 2017, managing the digitization process, rehousing, online database and the digital content for the 18,607 document collection. She is grateful for the firsthand experience to work with these beloved documents. The stories that are told within the collection are vital to family linages and give an insightful depiction of what daily life held in the emerging city of New Orleans. She hopes that through the Transcribathon project more of these documents are able to be brought to life.
ALBERT A. PALACIOS is the Digital Scholarship Coordinator at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin. Previously, he served as the Film Curatorial Assistant at the Harry Ransom Center. He holds undergraduate degrees in Architecture and Anthropology, an MS in Information Science, and an MA in Latin American Studies from UT Austin, and is a doctoral candidate in History (UT Austin) focused on manuscript censorship, printing privilege, and publishing networks in 16th Century Mexico. He coordinates transcription efforts based on the Benson’s Spanish colonial holdings and has previously collaborated with the Louisiana Historical Center to create programming that helps build a collaborative research community around our colonial collections.
BRYANNE SCHEXNAYDER is one of the presenters at the Louisiana Colonial Documents Transcribathon. She has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science with a specialization in Archives from Louisiana State University. She is from New Orleans, and started with the museum as an intern for the Louisiana Historical Center, where she began working directly with museum collections. Bryanne joined the Louisiana Colonial Document Digitization Project in 2013 as Indexing Manager. She and her team worked with digitized images of the documents and made efforts to input as much information about their contents as possible for public access. She hopes the transcribathon will not only bring a wider audience to the resources of the colonial documents but also allow for more accurate and in-depth data to be included on the colonial documents website, and thus a better overall experience for all who wish to utilize those documents in the future. When not working with archival collections and colonial documents, she is a producer and writer for a Southern history and folklore podcast called “Southern Gothic.”
RACHEL E. WINSTON is a Black Diaspora Archivist at The University of Texas at Austin. She is a collaborator on the Texas Domestic Slave Trade Project, and she contributed consultation and advice in the early planning stages of this project. Rachel hopes that transcribathon participants enjoy working with the Louisiana colonial archive collections, which are sure to help reveal more about our country and the lives and experiences of the enslaved people who built it.