January 16, 2022

NEH Grants Cornell $750,000 to Develop ‘Freedom on the Move’ Database

From Cornell Chronicle:

Ed Baptist, professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $750,000 digital infrastructure grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the development of the Freedom on the Move (FOTM) database.

The database collects and compiles fugitive slave advertisements from 18th- and 19th-century U.S. newspapers. Launched in 2014, the database provides essential primary documentation for the study of slavery and the resistance of self-liberating people in the United States. It now includes more than 30,000 advertisements and has engaged more than 10,500 contributors, including scholars, students and “citizen historians.”


The database is both a scholarly and a public-facing project, Baptist said.

“We can learn more from these ads about individual enslaved people – or lots of individuals, individuals ‘at scale’ – than we can from pretty much any other pre-1861 resource,” he said. “By using the ads as historical documents we help people to engage with slavery in a way that emphasizes the individuality and agency of people who were striving to liberate themselves.”

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Direct to Freedom on the Move (FOTM) Database

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.