African American Soldiers Added

Placing Digitized Documents in Context
While the documents within my collection themselves provide insight into the experiences of soldiers of color and their comrades from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, placing these documents in their proper context is integral to the effectiveness of this digital project. Components to the website like timelines and references guides, and will make visiting my site more engaging and educational for visitors. As this site will be primarily focused on reaching out to educators, their students, and the general interested public, these contextual items can provide the associated documents with an intellectual richness which would otherwise be lost.

A set of three concurrent timelines would give users a chance to understand events in both Spain and the United States which led to African Americans voyaging across the Atlantic to fight a war in a foreign land. One timeline will describe the sociopolitical events in Spain dating from the late 19th century into the twentieth century that set the stage for the Spanish Civil War. The second timeline will detail the legacy of African Americans in the United States military from the Revolutionary War era until the desegregation of the military in the late 1940’s. A third timeline will follow the evolution of the fight for civil rights throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Notable events on all of the timelines will link to documents within the collection, other websites, scholarly articles, or related images where appropriate. Utilizing the timelines in this way makes them both interactive and informational.

An extensive set of reference guides created for this site will ensure users have the opportunity to supplement the information they receive from the primary sources presented to them on the website. A “Resources” page will list the best researched and informed articles and books on the topic of African American volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, giving users a chance to read the works of scholars who have synthesized information such as the documents they are viewing on this site. The first set of reference guides will go into more detail about the history of African Americans in the United States military and the way it intertwined with the Civil Rights movement. Another set of reference guides will discuss the ideals pitted against each other during the Spanish Civil War and why it may have appealed to African Americans. Additionally, one set of reference guides will delve into biographical information about the lives of various African Americans who served in the Spanish Civil War.
Explanatory texts will be annotated using footnotes which can reveal the citation of the materials used, while the search function will allow users to search by subject, name and format in addition to searching by keyword. By organizing the search function in this fashion the website will be much more accessible to users of high school education levels and up. Providing users with search prompts as needed can assist users who may be overwhelmed by attempting to sort through the information presented.
Providing sufficient background information for users ensures that the digitized documents will be as useful as possible. Providing context for website visitors allows the documents to become living parts of history, examples of the individualized aspect of some of the world’s most momentous events. Intertwining military, social, and political history in different website formats only makes the documents relating to the African American experience in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade seem all the more significant.

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