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The Colored Conventions Project provides a comprehensive curriculum package to support participating students and faculty at every juncture of the process, from research to publishing online exhibits for public audiences at

See the online exhibit, "Black Wealth and 1843 National Colored Convention" for an example of the exciting results of student and faculty engagement with "Colored Conventions in a Box." Click here to download a PDF version.  

Reach us at!

Welcome to the Colored Conventions Project

Memo of Understanding


     Library Research Guides

     Quality Control Protocol

     Seeking Records Curriculum 

     Sample Undergraduate Assignments

     Sample Graduate Assignment


     Publishing your biographical essays

     Adding images to use on a biography page

     Video tutorials for project technologies

     Additional Omeka Resources

Guidelines for Sources and Citations

Welcome to the Colored Conventions Project

Thanks to you and your students for sharing your collective energy and intellectual acumen as we seek to learn more about the historic collective efforts of the Colored Conventions movement and to bring buried nineteenth-century Black organizing to digital life.

As an online exhibit-building endeavor, “Colored Conventions in a Box,” is a curricular package that supports instructors as they engage in teaching that transforms the minutes of the convention they’ve chosen to teach into a rich and engaging series of cultural biographies, visual artifacts and interactive media.

In the “Pedagogy” section, you will find all of the resources necessary for your class unit on a convention, including sample assignments for lower- and upper-division undergraduate classes as well as for graduate seminars. The first entry, Quality Control Protocol, explains the process that we have developed to ensure our project meets the highest standards in scholarly research.

In the “Technology” section, you will find all of the resources necessary for your students to publish online using a digital humanities platform called Omeka. This includes written and video instructions for uploading, as well as further resources that you might share with your students so that they can further explore the world of digital scholarship and engagement.

Lastly, in the “Project Research Guides and Guidelines” section, you will find links to extraordinarily useful research guides developed by University of Delaware’s research librarians in order to offer your students research guidance in one central location. We have developed a protocol so these guides can be adopted by your librarians as well. These guides compile a host of resources, including census directories, digital newspaper, image databases and quite useful collections of nineteenth-century letters, some of which are available through university subscriptions. In this section you will also find the Guidelines for Sources and Citations that will help us ensure best practices for citing sources, including Works Cited, and respecting intellectual property.

See the online exhibit, "Black Wealth and 1843 National Colored Convention" for an example of the exciting results of student and faculty engagement with "Colored Conventions in a Box."

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about Colored Conventions in a Box by writing to us at coloredconventions (at) We look forward to your and your students’ contributions to this exciting project!

Thank you,

The CCP Executive Committee

Memo of Understanding

The Colored Conventions Project attends to issues of race and gender equity and bias, historical and present-day. Our commitment, therefore, requires that we confront the underrepresentation of women in the convention minutes and articulate their substantial contributions to reform and organizational movements of the nineteenth century. Because our project seeks to produce knowledge on the African-American experience online as a form of public engagement, students can publish assignments to our online site,

Students can request to publish work online anonymously or can request removal by writing to coloredconventions (at) 

Instructor Memo of Understanding

Student Memo of Understanding


Research Guides

The Colored Conventions Project provides online research guides that are designed for faculty partners and student researchers. These guides compile a host of resources, including census directories, digital newspapers, image databases and quite useful books and collections of nineteenth-century letters, some of which are available through university subscriptions. If interested in using our guides or developing similar guides for university or college libraries, contact us at

Faculty Partners and Students at the University of Delaware

National Faculty Partners and Students

Quality Control Protocol

Please review CCP’s Quality Control Protocol for quality assurance of materials published to

  1. Faculty Partners can help the project greatly by ensuring high standards of research and writing in student biographies.

  2. We ask instructors to make sure students document their research, preferably in MLA formatting.

  3. Any use of images must be accompanied by complete citations from sources and publishers. Please guide your students to seek out images and other media in the public domain. (For assistance finding usable images, please see the research guide and example biographical entries.)

  4. Before we can make any biographies publicly viewable, instructors must fill out the Quality Control spreadsheet provided by the CCP team. This spreadsheet serves to advise us on which biographies meet academic standards and which are not recommended for publication.

  5. The CCP team reserves the right to revise each student’s work on the site in the interest of quality and continuity.

  6. All work on the site will be attributed. To ensure proper attribution for all contributing authors, please advise each student to sign every entry they create using the following format.

a. Student: Emily Johnson. Taught by: Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware, Spring, 2013. 

Seeking Records Curriculum

The Colored Conventions movement generated many different kinds of documents that allow current researchers a window into this movement for Black civil rights: the proceedings themselves, speeches that were--and sometimes were not--included in the printed materials/proceedings. Newspapers printed “calls” or announcements about upcoming meetings and vigorous debates sometimes ensued. And then there was the coverage that took place afterwards, spreading the word--quite intentionally--beyond the physical limits and time of the gathering itself. Finally, delegates often created legislative petitions to advocate for voting, jury and educational rights, for examples. The Colored Conventions Project seeks to locate these documents and make available in one place for the very first time. To do this, we need your research skills, energy and growing expertise. Click here for our seeking records curriculum. View all conventions for which we are seeking records here

Sample Undergraduate Assignments 

Lower-division Courses

Exploratory Essay (700-800 words)

This essay is designed to kick-start the initial research-intensive portion of the semester and will prepare you for the longer “Research Essay” that will follow. Using your chosen Colored Convention as a case study, we will explore the relationship between history, technology and primary resources. In this paper, you will explain your research process as you searched for information about your assigned delegate, connected woman or cultural institution and construct a thesis concerning its importance alongside a theme, debate or the broader convention movement. The conclusion of your essay should offer an argument (thesis) that has the potential to be developed into a longer, anaytical essay.

1. Introduction: Open the essay with an overview of your delegate’s involvement in the convention and the type of sources you will consult for more information (newspapers, letters, history books). Describe why these texts matter to the process of discovering more information about your subject.

2. Body: In the body of the essay, describe the primary items you find during your search. What is the nature of the content? Where did you discover these texts?

3. Closing: Close your essay by posing a tension-filled thesis about the relationship between a delegate, connected woman, debate, or theme present in the minutes. Describe how the information you discovered impacts your argument. Here, I want you to focus on how your research leads you to an argument.

Sample Themes: Gender, Education, Civil rights (voting rights) Travel, Religion  


Delegate Write-Up (250-300 words)

Trace your delegates’ social, geographical, organizational and familial networks, their geographical mobility (travel) and literary production (written contributions). If you’re assigned a location, trace its cultural history and use. You’ll use multiple newspaper databases, consult volumes of collected letters as well as images to develop a full visual and textual profile of your delegates. This essay should begin in the year of the convention that is your focus and give an overview of the lives of delegates starting at that time. Instead of creating a chronological “biography,” your write up will use your delegate’s concerns in that year as the central point from which all of the other information you share flows.


Biographical Essay Peer Review Worksheet

Focus on each person’s paper one at a time, working to find the answers to these questions together. Begin by reading and annotating their essay with your feedback. Then, working together, find or develop answers to the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. Does the name of the author of the biography appear anywhere on the page?

    1. Example: “Student Name. Taught by: Instructor, Full Institution Name, Semester Year.”

    2. This work is part of a larger digital humanities project about the colored conventions and will be attributed to you. If you do not want to be included after the assignment, write to with the subject line “YourName.Optout”

  2. What were the circumstances and major events of the lives of these individuals and how did these forces lead these individuals to become delegates at or connected to delegates at this convention?

  3. Why or how this person was involved with or connected to the convention or the convention’s concerns?

  4. What was the delegate’s role and actions, or lack thereof, at the convention?

  5. Circle every historical reference (associations, causes, debates, issues, organizations, other conventions, churches, significant events, etc). Does the biography fully explain what these are, and why they matter?

  6. What gives the delegate’s life historical significance that differs from other delegates?

  7. What areas in the biography require further research? Are there gaps of information?

  8. What can you tell about the author’s research? Offer 2-3 suggestions about other tactics or approaches or topics that they might additionally consider.

  9. What revisions do you, as a stand-in for the general interest, online reader, think would make the essay more readable?

  10. Looking at the page online, what do you notice about the design or layout? Are there images? Could the use of images appeal to potential audiences?

  11. If images can be used, are they displayed randomly or deliberately? 


Upper-division Courses

Background: For the thirty-five years that preceded the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks came together in state and national political conventions to strategize about how they might achieve educational, labor and legal justice at a moment when Black rights were constricting nationally and locally. The delegates to these meetings include the most well-known, if mostly male, writers, organizers, church leaders, newspaper editors and entrepreneurs in the canon of early African American leadership—and many whose names and histories have long been forgotten. All that is left of this phenomenal collective effort are the minutes. Even these materials are rare and can only be accessed through out-of-print volumes.

Assignment Description: In addition to official Colored Convention delegates, student researchers will be assigned women (wives, daughters, nieces, sisters) who are connected to male delegates or a convention “place” which can be researched using the same databases and scholarly resources. Though women are under-represented in the delegate minutes, they are deeply involved in reform movements and are also involved in the businesses and in struggles for educational justice that the conventions discuss. Be certain to begin your biography in the era you’re studying, in 1832 Philadelphia if that’s the convention you’re assigned, or in 1865 California if you’re examining that later convention.

Delegate Write-Up (350-650) + links + full bibliography: Trace your delegate’s social, organizational, entrepreneurial and familial networks, their geographical mobility (travel), writings and other cultural production (songs they composed, art they produced, patents they filed, businesses they started, inventions they contributed). You’ll use multiple newspaper databases, consult volumes of collected letters, and find images to develop a full visual and textual profile of your delegates. Your write up should begin: “In 18xx (the year of the convention you’re studying). . .” and go on to develop an overview of delegate/affiliated woman/place starting at the time of the convention. Instead of creating a chronological “biography,” your write up will use your delegate’s concerns in the year of the convention you study as the central point from which all of the other information you share flows. 


Sample Graduate Assignment

Background: Each student is assigned two delegates. As we note the gendered silences that convention minutes produced at the moment of archive/event production, we are deliberate in our effort to challenge such silences at the moment of event revisitation. As a result, in your research, one of your goals is to resuscitate a woman connected to your delegates whose actions and activism undergirds the movement’s goals. That person is often a family member, but is sometimes a close associate. So in total you’ll have four research subjects, two pairs each of which include an delegate.

What to do and bring to class when you present

  • Choose one of your two pairs to report on.

  • “Map” your delegate over time. Because we’re interested in circuits of mobility, activism

    and enterprise, please provide dates and locations which allow you to plot your delegate’s travels and transplantations. Be as specific as you can when you can be (addresses of businesses or homes you find in city directories, in solid secondary sources, in census records would be useful, for example).

  • Identify your delegate pair’s social network. Who is in your delegate’s posse, how are they connected and for what duration? In other words, bring in a list of their professional and familial networks. Can you name the social, political and geographical ties that link them?

  • Bring two copies of your work. Members of the Colored Convention Digital Humanities Omeka Action Team may be in class to help upload the information you’ve found.

Write up due on (fill in date) on Omeka. See Omeka video tutorials below. Please also hand in a write up to your professor. 

Useful Hints and Research Tools:
  • Almost all the resources are available on the Colored Convention Library Research Guides
  • Look for ads based on your subject's occupation.
  • Note the methodological differences used in different secondary sources, produced at different times, intended for various readerships. 
  • Get acquainted with (directories, census records, marriage/death, etc.)


Sample Syllabus that Highlights Colored Convention Teaching Unit

Week 6: March 12 and 14.
T: Reading: Minutes of the 1855 National Negro Convention in Philadelphia. Assign Delegates.
Th: In-class uploading workshop. You’ll learn how to upload images, links, create metadata, tag information etc. By next Thursday after class, you must send in required information to and and have uploaded all of your information. Help is available. Presentation:
Reading: Eric Gardner, Introduction to Unexpected Places, Sakai or emailed by professor.

Week 7: March 19 and 21.

T: Delegate Presentations. Trace your delegates’ social, geographical, organizational and familial networks, their geographical mobility and literary production. You’ll use multiple newspaper databases, consult volumes of collected letters, images, census and marriage records to develop a full visual and textual profile of your delegates. Prepare a 15-minute PowerPoint on your delegate and the person you’ve chosen as part of their social network.

Due Saturday: Long Assignment on Conventions. See Hand-Out. 



Publishing your biographical essays

When you have finished composing your biographical essay, you will publish it on a public website using a software program called Omeka. Please follow the steps below. 

Logging into
  • Go to
  • Scroll down and click “Login.
  • Enter your login username and password (you can get these from your instructor). 

Creating a biography page:

  1. Click on the tab at the top of the page labeled Exhibits.
  2. Find the exhibited titled “1855 Philadelphia Convention” and click to Edit the exhibit.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the section named “Sections and Pages.”
  4. Click on the link that says Add a page.
  5. This will open up a page titled Page Metadata.
  6. In the box for title, write the delegate’s full name. Skip the box marked Slug.
  7. Choose a layout. If you have many or a few images, choose the one that looks best.
  8. Click Save Changes.
  9. The page displayed is the place to add in your text. The numbers on the Page Layout correspond to the boxes under Page Content. For example, Box 2 on the template will show the text entered into Box 2 under Page Content.
  10. To insert a link, highlight any text and click the button titled Insert / Edit Link.

At the bottom of the page, click Save and Return to Section.

Adding images to use on a biography page:

If you want to include images with your biography, follow these guidelines. In Omeka, you must first Add an Item to upload a file to the site. Then you can attach that item to the site.

Add an item to the site: 

  1. Click on the tab at the top left of the page labeled Items.
  2. Click Add an Item.
  3. In the tab named Dublin Core, follow these instructions to enter the appropriate metadata.
    1. Title: A name given to the resource. Typically, a Title will be a name by which the resource is formally known, such as “Portrait of William Nell” or “The Colored Patriots of the Revolutionary War.”
    2. Description: An account of the resource. Description may include but is not limited to: an abstract, a table of contents of a longer work, a graphical representation, or a free-text account of the resource.
    3. Creator: The name of the person or organization that originally created the historical thing. Examples of a Creator include a person, an organization, or a service.
    4. Publisher: Give the name of the resource where you found this item during your research process. For example, list the website, database, or books where you found this item. If at all possible, please include a URL link to anything that appears online.
    5. Date: The point or points of time in the lifecycle of this item. Please follow this format for dates: Year-Month-Day to look like this: 2013-02-28
    6. Contributor: Write in your name as the person who has contributed this item to our project. If you do not wish to have your name or written work published, please write to CCP at with the subject line “YourName.Optout” and your name or writing will be removed. Please include your first and last name, university title, semester, and instructor, ex. Student: Emily Johnson. Taught by: John Freeman, University of Delaware, Spring, 2013.
  4. In the tab named Item Type Metadata, choose the type as Document, Still Image, etc.
  5. In the tab named Files, Choose file to upload the document.
  6. In the tab named Tags, enter in any tags you think might help others find the item later. 
  7. Ignore the tab named 'Scripto.'

Inserting an image into a biography page:

Go back to the edit page area by clicking on the tab Exhibits > Edit (next to your exhibit) > Edit (next to the page you already created).

  1. Click the green button named Attach an Item
  2. Click Show Search Form to search by title or collection for the file you already uploaded.
  3. Click on an item to highlight it and then click Attach Selected Item.
  4. When finished attaching all images, click Save and Return to Section.

Video tutorials for project technologies

Contributing students and instructors may consult video tutorials for publishing your biographies and adding images to the site.

How to publish your biography

How to add an image to your biography


Additional Omeka Resources

A Brief Introduction to Omeka
Screencasts from the makers of Omeka offers Omeka sites for free–start your own project!
Or host your own Omeka site through Reclaim Hosting Using Omeka by the Florida State Libraries
Ideas on using Omeka @ Teaching History


Guidelines for Sources and Citations


If you find images on any of the library databases, try to replicate that find in the Library of Congress, Google Books, Documenting the American South, Project Gutenberg (,, Schomburg Library, (; Google images ( allows you to paste in images to search for similar images.

• Always indicate where you got the item. Link to the website or source.
• Make sure you include “specs” for images, that is, include the dimensions of the original image if available. Please do not crop. Please use the largest .jpg you can possibly get.

Works Cited/Bibliography:

Because this information is hard to piece together as you know, and can come from sources that don’t get it exactly right (as some of you have found out) it’s important to include a complete bibliography as you put together your delegate write-up.

• In addition to your conventional bibliography, create a “works cited page” that includes live links if you got information from a Web source. If you find a frontispiece (the image of the front of a book or pamphlet), include that link.
• Put your name, and the class, and the date of your work on every page. Example: Meredith Sobel, ENGL 344, 2-28-2013.