The goals of the African-American Text Corpus (AATC) project are:
This project will provide access to as many writings by African American authors as we can find in all genres and in all times, within the limits of copyright or other licensing. We will continually add to the database as the public domain threshold advances or as licensing agreements permit.
This project will provide access to texts in both annotated and unannotated formats to meets diverse needs of researchers in many scholarly environments.
The aforementioned features (i.e. tags and field values) of this project will be discoverable through a database with different search parameters for retrieving by annotation type, genre, author and numerous other metadata values. Export options will allow researchers to generate sub-corpora specific to their needs, or produce result reports of analyses that utilize built-in tools.
The corpus and its infrastructure can be used to study Computational Linguistics and broader aspects of Digital Humanities comparatively or in the abstract. We can use this and related research to make informed decisions about incorporating new features to make the resource more responsive to developments in these fields.
As a compendium of African American writers, the AATC can also serve as a bibliographic resource that provides users with authors and writings by genre, time period, location and more, as well as a library that provides human-readable texts.
At present we are developing several test corpora to evaluate the technical challenges for approaching the foregoing goals.
Last updated 29 Apr 2023
Scope : African American Authors who wrote in the United States or antecedent colonies. Demarcating this scope is complicated by authors who were born or lived in the United States at some point, but wrote in another country. One example of this is Olaudah Equiano who lived in Virginia and may have been born in South Carolina, but wrote in the United Kingdom. At present we have tentatively committed to expanding the scope of the AATC to include diasporic writers beyond the United States in the near future, which would moot the issue.
Time : 1746-1927 The first African American Author is by general consensus Lucy Terry Prince whose "Bars Fight" from 1746 represents the inaugural testimony of African American literature. Writings of all genres dating from 1746 to 1927 are included. The terminal date 1927 is observed because it represents (as of this writing in 2023) the end of the Public Domain for writing in the United States. Under current legislation this date will advance one year every year and so more authors will be included as the public domain advances.
Cost : This project is presently developed without any funding, and relies on whatever resources are available through Richardson Library.
The AATC project goals are divided into nine phases. While several phases are currently in progress to varying degrees, the principal emphasis is presently on phases 1 and 2 with the goal of producing a project exemplar that is both manageable in scale, but can be used for basic scholarship in digital humanities.
Phase 1 : Complete collection of African American writings prior to 1801 with annotated set (In progress),
Phase 2 : Develop a test corpus to evaluate technical and other requirements (In Progress),
Phase 3: Seek input and develop an advisory panel from experts in the Morgan Community and beyond to develop research agenda, provide informed advice on issues and challenges experienced during project development and guide the growth and progress of the AATC to make it responsive to a broad range of research and learning interests. (In Progress),
Phase 4 : Develop research projects that apply text analysis and data mining (TDM) techniques to the corpus to demonstrate the utility of the AATC. (In Progress),
Phase 5 : Develop a searchable database to facilitate searching by genre, author, year, place and more (In Progress),
Phase 6 : Expand collection of African American writings from 1801 to 1865 (Planned),
Phase 7 : Develop descriptive and analytic tools and integrate them into the database to facilitate reports and visualizations that can be generated online and exported.
Phase 8 : Promote the AATC as a scholarly resources to external learning and research communities. (Planned),
Phase 9 : Expand collection of African American writings from 1866 to 1927 (Planned).
Bryan Fuller, MLIS, MS
Reference and Government Documents Librarian
133-A Richardson Library
Morgan State University
1700 E. Cold Spring Ln.
Baltimore, MD 21251
Adrian Clarindo, MA, CPE
Professor English and Portuguese
Instituto Federal do Paraná, Parana, Brazil
Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Parana, Brazil
Ph.D. student at São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil