Preserving the Writings of Anna Julia Cooper

Recently, the Humanities Center at Syracuse University partnered with the Colored Conventions Project to host a local transcribe-a-thon of the writings of Anna Julia Cooper. The community service project’s goal was to transcribe the writing of Dr. Cooper and create a digital archive of her work.

Born into slavery in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1858, Anna Julia Cooper earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Oberlin College in Ohio. She later became the fourth African American woman to earn a doctoral degree when she received a Ph.D. in history at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1925 at the age of 67. Cooper was a Black feminist leader, intellectual, activist and educator. Her most widely known book is A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, which was published in 1892. Cooper died in 1964 at the age of 105.

Participants in the transcribe-a-thon used computers to read Cooper’s documents online and type up the content into a digital database. Materials included were Cooper’s papers, notes, diaries, newspaper articles and more from Howard University’s Moorland- Spingarn Research Center archives. The transcribe-a-thon was part of an emerging field known as digital humanities, where digital tools are used in the practice of humanities research.

“Cooper’s ideas were groundbreaking,” says Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center and professor in the department of women’s and gender studies. Cooper was known for her advocacy for a liberal arts education for Black students, one that would free the mind, was culturally relevant, would raise consciousness and prepare one to combat inequality.” Dr. May is the author of Anna Julia Cooper, Visionary Black Feminist: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2007).

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  1. Jah and Jahnes love

    Thanks for this article about Dr. Cooper’s works. I was led to believe that she earned a Doctorate in Philosophy at the Sorbonne! But, History and philosophy are associated at Universities in Western Europe. I cannot wait to access these documents online! And, I have to read her notes and dissertation thesis on the Haitian Revolution! She was born in 1958, the same year that Empress Marie Claire Heureuse Félicite Bonheur Dessalines dire! She was the wife and partner of Emperor J.J. Dessalines who led the Indigenous Army in Ayiti to freedom from the barbaric French Slave and Colonial Masters (1804) . Blessed love.

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