Douglass Day 2022 – Press Kit
Douglass Day 2022 Press Release
6th Annual Transcribe-a-thon Honors Black History on Douglass Day 2022
State College, PA & nationwide
On Friday, February 14, 2022, thousands of people will celebrate Douglass Day, an annual event held to celebrate the birthday of Frederick Douglass.
Members of the public are invited to join this celebration by logging on to DouglassDay.org to help transcribe records from a little-known chapter of African American history called the Colored Conventions. It’s a way to celebrate Black History Month with a digital twist!
Transcribe-a-thons being held on February 14
Many in-person and virtual events are holding simultaneous “transcribe-a-thons” to contribute to a new crowdsourcing project called “Transcribe Conventions.” This project will focus on transcribing records from political meetings held by African Americans during the 1800s called “Colored Conventions.” The transcribe-a-thons will include a live broadcast on YouTube from 12-3 PM (EST). The broadcast will feature speakers, performances, and more.
Transcribing the Colored Conventions
The Colored Conventions were historic state and national political meetings held by Black men and women between 1830 and 1900.
At the conventions, delegates from Black communities across North America met to debate their larger fight for freedom, civil rights, and justice. Many of their meetings touched on topics that still resonate today, including voting rights, civil rights, fair access to education, and much more. It was the longest campaign for Black civil rights before the founding of the NAACP and the Civil Rights Movement.
Leaders at the conventions include many of the most famous names from this era. Frederick Douglass attended the conventions for four decades (1843-1883) alongside nearly all of the era’s most influential writers, organizers, church leaders, newspaper editors, teachers, and entrepreneurs. The minutes and proceedings from these conventions also tell us about tens of thousands more whose names went unremembered.
Anyone can help transcribe these historical records. No experience is needed, and tutorials and instructions will be provided.
Douglass Day partners with the Colored Conventions Project
This history is presented by the Colored Conventions Project (CCP), a scholarly community and research project based at The Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Black Digital Research. The CCP began in 2012 at the University of Delaware and has grown to include more than 100 team members (students, librarians, faculty, and community partners).
In 2021, two founders of the project, P. Gabrielle Foreman and Jim Casey, published an essay collection, The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century (UNC Press).
The CCP has won prizes from the Modern Language Association and the American Studies Association, along with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2019, the NEH named the CCP as one of its all-time “Essential Projects.” To learn more, see https://coloredconventions.org.
Rediscovering Women’s Leadership in the Conventions
Women played important roles at the Colored Conventions, yet the documentary record largely erases their contributions. Very few of the records mention women’s roles in creating, hosting, and organizing the conventions. Yet the work of scholars is beginning to show that Black women helped to drive this movement for decades as intellectuals, writers, and community organizers. This crowdsourcing project will seek to fix that imbalance by challenging participants on Douglass Day 2022 to find the needles in the haystack.
This crowdsourcing project is open to all. Members of the public can join online or find a local group to attend by visiting DouglassDay.org.
Learn more about the Colored Conventions
- Recent book: The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century, edited by P. Gabrielle Foreman, Jim Casey, Sarah Lynn Patterson (UNC Press)
- In the New York Times: “Colored Conventions, a Rallying Point for Black Americans” by Eve Kahn
- Podcast (15 mins): “The Colored Conventions Project Resurrects Disremembered History with Denise Burgher, Jim Casey, Gabrielle Foreman, and Many Others,” Museum Archipelago 57, January 28, 2019.
~ Local organizers: please fill in the appropriate info in this last paragraph ~
Here at [NAME OF INSTITUTION], [NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS] have signed up to help bring African American history to digital life. This gathering joins forces with dozens of locations across North America & Europe.
For more information, please visit douglassday.org.
- Sunday, Feb 14 (12-3 PM EST)
- Local times may vary.
- Douglass Day
- The Colored Conventions Project
- Center for Black Digital Research (DigBlk) at the Pennsylvania State University
Lead organizers for media contacts – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jim Casey, Penn State
- Denise Burgher, University of Delaware
Other speakers may be available to interview upon request, including from the Colored Conventions Project.
Who: High school students, college and university students, public library users, museum patrons, student groups, amateur historians and genealogists, librarians, archivists, scholars, teachers, activists, church goers, and other volunteers across the United States, and around the world.
What: An online and international celebration of Frederick Douglass’s birthday through a transcribe-a-thon of the Colored Conventions. Live performances, singing, and birthday cake will be on hand at many virtual locations.
Where (participants): Hundreds of people from institutions, organizations, independent groups and as individuals will congregate simultaneously for this event. Select designated locations are open to media inquiries
See all participating locations (map forthcoming).
Why: In honor of Frederick Douglass, along with the Colored Conventions and the Black men and women activists of the past and present.
How: Visit the virtual settings where the simultaneous transcriptions are taking place, and follow the action online.
VISUALS: Opening ceremony, individuals gathering, meeting each other, singing, celebrating (party / cake cutting), people transcribing, short historical presentations (projected archival photographs and original documents), and short interviews with historians and relevant experts.
Additional graphics & visuals are available on the Douglass Day website page for flyers & branding.
Media Backgrounder on Douglass Day
What is Douglass Day?
After Frederick Douglass passed away in 1895, African American communities gathered to celebrate his birthday every year on February 14th. These memorials offered a space for reflection on the past and the questions of today. Douglass Day was one of the origins of Black History Month. In 2017, the Colored Conventions Project revived these celebrations as an annual day for preserving Black history. This year, we will hold a transcribe-a-thon and read-a-thon focused on the papers of Anna Julia Cooper. All are invited! Learn more about the history of Douglass Day.
What is a transcribe-a-thon?
During these events, we can help enhance digitized archives. We’ll have food, music, and a fun time! Our main activity will be transcribing the words in all sorts of documents (from letters and diaries to certificates and postcards). Don’t feel comfortable reading old handwriting? Try working in pairs. There’s also lots of typewritten documents that are easier to read. And we have lots of tutorials, guides, and more in the Organizer’s Kit. Let’s dive in!
Quick facts about Douglass Day
- Douglass Day celebrations began around the turn of the 20th century and helped inspire Black History Month
- A group at the University of Delaware helped revive Douglass Day in 2017.
- This year’s event will be the fifth annual celebration of Douglass Day in its latter day form.
- Douglass Day helps create new digital resources for African American history each year. All materials created are made free & open to all.
- Participation totals:
- Estimated totals: 12,550 people in 340 locations
- 2017 – 250 people in 9 locations
- 2018 – 1600 people in 130 locations
- 2019 – 300 people in 9 locations
- 2020 – 2800 people in 75 locations
- 2021 – 7600 people in 117 locations
Visuals for coverage about Douglass Day
Available on douglassday.org