While I am thrilled that these African American figures have emerged as some of the most famous people in American history, I worry that most people’s knowledge of black history does not extend too far beyond these iconic figures. This concern is one of the reasons that I created the Black Quotidian. While I have posted on Black Quotidian about Carter G. Woodson, Marting Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, this digital project also calls attention to people and events that are not commonly featured in textbooks, documentaries, or Black History Month celebrations. Implicit in the project’s daily post structure is the belief that African-American history should not be confined to February, but rather, that it is a subject that deserves and rewards daily research, reflection, and reexamination. Taking the ordinary aspects of African-American history seriously means recognizing the richness and diversity of black lives, cultures, and communities. I continue to be surprised by the amazing stories that live in the archives of black newspapers, and the project enabled me to share several hundred of these stories with online audiences. Black Quotidian changed how I think about, write about, and teach African-American history, and my hope is that the project will spark the imaginations of other scholars, teachers, and students.
This path outlines my motivations for creating Black Quotidian and the digital project’s methodology and scholarly contribution. The first section examines the importance of exploration in doing research with digital archives. The second section considers how the Scalar multimedia web-authoring platform encourages new approaches to scholarly communication.