We are a collaborative and multidisciplinary research project dedicated to preserving, digitizing, transcribing, translating, analyzing, and publishing manuscripts related to two slave conspiracies that occurred at the Pointe Coupee Post in 1791 and 1795. We have digitized more than 1800 folio pages in French and Spanish related to these two conspiracies and crowdsourced their transcription and translation. From these sources, we have processed geospatial, demographic, and forensic information relevant to persons, places, and events involved in the conspiracies.

We are building an online archive with a facing-page display to present manuscripts alongside transcriptions and translations. The archive will also feature interactive historical maps providing location-based access to the collection and network visualizations keyed to social organization and the circulation of knowledge. We are preserving all of our documents, data, and maps for long-term access, making them permanently available through the California Digital Library.

The project takes a new approach to a recognized problem in the study of slave conspiracies. The problem is that our understanding of slave conspiracies is based upon unreliable evidence. Confused and self-contradictory, at times paranoid and even delusional, available records are often based on little more than rumor and hearsay, generated through an informal legal process in which individuals supply competing accounts of the same set of events. By bringing data science approaches to bear on this problem, our intention is not to resolve things once and for all. Rather, it is to analyze and visualize uncertainty about agency, collaboration, causation, and communication by rendering the forking possibilities suggested by extant records. We are interested both in how conspiracies were originally imagined by participants and also in how conspiracies were understood in retrospect by investigators and government officials. The technical challenges here are considerable, not least the challenge of balancing the categorical certainty implied by maps and data visualization with the inconclusive nature of our evidence.

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