Mapping Violence is a multifaceted project that includes compiling a digital archive of histories of racial violence, researching documented cases, curating content (including digital tours and historical essays), and an interactive map. The digital archive is the first to include multiple forms of violence (at the hands of law enforcement, US soldiers, and vigilantes) that targeted multiple racial and ethnic groups (African Americans, Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, Asian Americans, Native Americans and European immigrants).
Mapping Violence will be useful for a range of groups. Visitors will be able to learn from historical essays, a timeline, digital tours, and the descriptions of each event. The content developed for this project will help public users gain an understanding of the complexities of the history of racially-motivated violence. Researchers will be able to make use of the interactive map and information stored in the database to inspire new research projects. Educators will be able to utilize educational resources for K-12 and university classrooms.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, historical institutions (state archives, historical societies, museums etc.) neglected to keep accurate records of racially motivated killings. Instead, civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and anti-lynching activists, like Ida B. Wells, worked to document the lynchings of black Americans. In the early 20th century, residents also protested anti-Mexican violence at the hands of the state police, local law enforcement, US soldiers, and vigilantes. Journalists, like Jovita Idár, civilians like Frank Pierce, and elected officials like José Tomas Canales, made efforts to shift cultures of violence. Mapping Violence builds on these pioneering efforts to create a record of racial violence in Texas.
Each case of racial violence is significant for shaping our understanding of the past. A team at Brown University is researching cases in the archive and finding new cases everyday. Team members are using a range of sources including oral histories, court cases, photographs, letters of correspondence, police reports, newspaper articles, state senate investigation records, federal investigations, consulate records, NAACP archives, and records preserved by other civil rights pioneers.
Mapping Violence is a multi-year effort. The team will add our findings, educational resources, and curated content over the course of the next two years, but we know that our efforts will always remain incomplete.