The Rutgers Digital Humanities Initiative recently awarded DH seed grants in support of four scholarly digital projects. Marlene H. Gaynair (PhD student, History), Hudson McFann (PhD student, Geography), Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (Coordinator of the Internship Program and Instructor of Public History, History), and Mary Rizzo (Associate Director of Digital and Public Humanities Initiatives, American Studies, and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, History) are the principle investigators who will develop these projects and present on their work in 2017-2018.

Islands in the North: Black Caribbean Migrants Creating Space and Place in Toronto, 1950s to 1990s

Photo by M. H. Gaynair

This digital project (re)creates the space and place of Black Caribbean/West Indian immigrants in postwar twentieth century Toronto, Canada. With the intentions of creating an ongoing public historical archive, Marlene Hyacinth Gaynair (History) uses spatial analytic software to transform analog documents into a multidimensional interactive mapping exhibition. Inserting pieces of oral history, music, advertisements and photographs, “Islands in the North” makes space for “blackness” in Canadian scholarship and society. Uniquely, through various mapping platforms, it challenges the narrative of the “Great White North” by examining the development and growth of an “ethnic enclave” in the center of Canada’s largest and culturally significant city. Furthermore, creating this non-traditional archive allows for more access to the long history of blackness in the Canadian public sphere. Finally, through (re)creating space and place in the archive, the mapping of “Black Toronto” challenges what it means to be Canadian.

Rebuilding Khao I Dang

Camp de Khao-I-Dang. Construction de l’hôpital du camp.
Khao-I-Dang. Building of the camp hospital.

Using archival research, interviews, and participatory mapping, this project is an ongoing effort to digitally reconstruct Khao I Dang  (1979–1993), a refugee camp established in Thailand in the wake of the Cambodian genocide. Specifically, the project aims to build a website ( that explores the camp’s history and legacies––through, for example, a series of interactive maps––focusing on how Khao I Dang was experienced, and has been remembered, by refugees, relief workers, journalists, and government officials.



Rutgers Public Humanities App

Detail of Old Queens (Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives)

Spearheaded by Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (History), this project will facilitate the redevelopment of the Rutgers 250 mobile application as a tool for history instruction and public history outreach. The goal is to use it to showcase a variety of different public humanities projects being conducted at Rutgers, beginning with the creation of a virtual walking tour highlighting the Scarlet & Black Project’s research into the history of slavery and dispossession in Rutgers history. The app will act as host for a virtual exhibit on this research, highlighting important primary sources, and as access point for visitors and other interested parties to learn more about this history.

Building the Chicory Archive of African-American Poetry

The Chicory office. Photo by Frank Gardina, Baltimore Sun

From 1966-1983, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore published Chicory, a magazine of poetry written by the mostly African-American residents of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. Long forgotten, this project builds on the recent work of Mary Rizzo (American Studies) to digitize the magazine through the Digital Maryland repository by envisioning creating a more user-friendly interface with Chicory that helps interpret this extraordinary resource for scholars and the public.