The Iowa Colored Conventions Project
The Colored Conventions Project (CCP) recovers and shares information about Colored Conventions. In the decades preceding the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks gathered in state and national conventions to advocate for justice as Black rights were constricting across the country. The CCP documents delegates to Colored Conventions and associated women whose civic engagement, political organizing and publications have long been forgotten.
Beginning in 2018, an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional team from The University of Iowa and Grinnell College has collaborated on a Digital Bridges project to plan an Iowa satellite to the CCP. Over the course of summer 2018, the project members welcomed local stakeholders and experts for several workshops, including representatives from the Cedar Rapids African American History Museum and the Iowa State Historical Society. With guidance from the University of Iowa Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio, and Karen Mason and Janet Weaver, they explored avenues for web-based exhibits and community-based history collecting/public-facing history websites, respectively. In addition to the workshops, they performed research, read convention proceedings, created a Wiki for the Iowa CCP satellite, and established long-term project goals. At the end of the summer, they were notified that they were named the national Colored Convention Project’s first Mellon-funded Satellite Program.
The team that began work on this project in the spring of 2018 consisted of Stephanie Jones (Education, Grinnell College), Katrina Sanders (Education, University of Iowa), Leslie Schwalm (History and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa), and Miriam Thaggert (English, African American Studies and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa).
That summer, the team welcomed four additional project members: Heather Cooper (Visiting Assistant Professor in History, University of Iowa), Dwain Coleman (Graduate Student in History, University of Iowa), Dellyssa Edinboro (Graduate Student in Education, University of Iowa), and Mila Kaut (Undergraduate Student in History and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa). At the end of the summer, they were joined by Aiden Bettine (Graduate Student in History, University of Iowa), Janalyn Moss (American History Librarian, University of Iowa), and Kathleen Diffley (English, University of Iowa).