Preview of Covington’s forthcoming archive on Black girls in film
As a community engaged scholar, this fellowship has provided a space to value fellows’ interdisciplinary scholarship, professionalization from the Studio and explore the possibilities of how the digital humanities can assist and serve in the development of community needs that coincide with academic endeavors within the disciplines of African American Studies, Sociology and Film Studies.
At the beginning of the fellowship, I was able to connect with the Library of Congress, UCLA and the University of Indiana Bloomington to explore the film collections and archive of Black films. The archivists and librarians from across the country informed me that there was no specific archive of the database of Black youth films. Though each of the resources provided were extensive, it was encouraging to identify a “gap” in the digital space. It was clear that the database I was seeking is what I needed to create. In developing a dataset of over 100 Black youth films, the curated collection begins as a space to identify films featuring Black and African American girls as main characters in feature films.
I explored database options including, Omeka and Heurist, to serve as a general database. But each format did not allow for multiple data points to be viewed simultaneously in addition to user access and navigation. In my ongoing consultation with the Studio, I was able to begin the process of providing the database in the format of a digital timeline.
Through incorporating Atom I was able to begin transition of the dataset to a timeline that can be a utility for teachers, youth, filmmakers and scholars interested in Black youth films, specifically girls. The beginning of the database has started with the fellowship and will continue to be part of my academic scholarship.
Turning data sets into digital representations and collections that serve as resources for others is much of what I have learned in the Digital Fellowship. The power of collaborative work and engagement with communities needs allows for the digital humanities to supplement much the traditional parameters of traditional academic spaces taught in graduate school. The digital space allows for non-academics and community members to explore exhibits, the ongoing professional development to develop digital skills and the creation of visual context for scholarly work.