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UA Libraries Digital Collection: Septimus D. Cabaniss Papers [1815-1889]

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  • Amos J Wright
    ... From: Jody DeRidder [mailto:jody@jodyderidder.com] Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 4:29 PM To: diglib@infoserv.inist.fr Subject: [DIGLIB] UA Libraries Grant
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2010
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jody DeRidder [mailto:jody@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 4:29 PM
      To: diglib@...
      Subject: [DIGLIB] UA Libraries Grant to Pave the Way for Low-Cost Digitization of Cultural Heritage Materials

      Press Release (apologies for cross posting)

      The University of Alabama Libraries has been awarded a grant from the
      National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) National Historical
      Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to digitize a large and
      nationally important manuscript collection related to the emancipation of
      slaves: the Septimus D. Cabaniss Papers. This digitization grant
      (NAR10-RD-10033-10) will extend for 14 months beginning January 1, 2010
      and will provide researchers online access to an estimated 44,563 images
      for the minimal total cost of only $71,516, only $1.87 per page.

      The model to be used for digitization is designed to enable institutions
      to mass-digitize manuscript collections at a minimal cost, leveraging the
      extensive series descriptions already available in the collection finding
      aid to provide search and retrieval. Digitized content for the collection
      will be linked from the finding aid, providing online access to 31.8
      linear feet of valuable archival material that otherwise would never be
      web-available. Every month the newly digitized content will be added to
      the online finding aid to provide improved access. Software and workflows
      developed to support the process are made freely available from the grant
      website: http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/hoole/cabaniss

      The Septimus D. Cabaniss Collection (1815-1889) was selected as exemplary
      of the legal difficulties encountered in efforts to emancipate slaves in
      the Deep South. Of particular interest are the materials related to the
      estate of Samuel Townsend, a heavily litigated estate where practically
      all associated materials were used as evidence in the courts.

      In 1853, S.D. Cabaniss, a Huntsville, Alabama, attorney, was employed by
      the wealthy unmarried Samuel Townsend to draft a will that would allow him
      to manumit and leave property to a selection of his slaves, many of whom
      were his children. Townsend was concerned because the will left by his
      brother Edmund, seeking to do something similar, had been held void by the
      courts. Townsend was concerned that his own will could be held void, and
      hired Cabaniss to draft a will which would protect the interests of his
      chosen heirs.

      In part, the will would provide for the emancipation and removal of forty
      of his slaves to a free territory, where they would be educated. This
      will, and the litigation surrounding it, are exemplary of the struggle
      between the ruling pro-slavery sentiment of the Deep South during this
      time, and the more humanistic sentiment of actual slave-owners seeking to
      free their own children.
      As such, the Cabaniss papers are a rich resource for cultural, historical,
      sociological, psychological, legal and political science researchers of
      this time period. These papers were recently processed under another
      NHPRC grant, NAR06GRANT-048 "Bringing Alabama's African American History
      to Light."

      Already several thousand images of these valuable materials are online,
      and can be accessed from http://acumen.lib.ua.edu/u0003_0000252 More
      content will continue to be added monthly until the project is complete in
      February 2011. Usability testing is included in the grant project, and
      results will be publicized.

      Jody DeRidder
      Digital Services
      University of Alabama Libraries
      Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
      (205) 348-0511
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