The Red Record: Revealing Lynching in North Carolina

UNC-Chapel Hill, American Studies
Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch direct this project. Student historians include Jennifer Davidowitz, Sarah Dwyer, Dallas Ellis, Jared Feeny, Ava Gruchacz, Robert Haisfield, Jennifer Hausler, Harry Heyworth, Kara Kochek, Daniel Lee, Landon Mays, George Pancio
Type: 
blog
project

Inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s report on lynchings in the American South, this project seeks to locate and document lynchings in North Carolina (and ultimately, beyond) using DH Press.

Started in February of 2015, The Red Record aims to

  • pinpoint, using latitude-longitude pairs, the locations of lynchings in North Carolina.
  • provide access to relevant manuscript material, particularly digital newspaper articles.
  • offer users both broad and specific information about lynching in North Carolina for research, teaching, and other uses.
  • contribute to an important conversation about race, violence, and power in the United States.

White North Carolinians did not make their state a leader in lynchings, much to the relief of the state’s governors. But North Carolinians still lynched nearly 150 people between the Civil War and the Kennedy presidency.

This project seeks to address the irony that despite the fact that members of lynch mobs documented their activities deliberately and prolifically, the physical spaces by and large remain unmarked. This project will visualize lynchings in new ways, to the extent possible privileging images of modern sites of historic lynchings over the mob-produced images of damaged black bodies that were intended to terrorize the wider black community.

Current and future iterations of the project will seek to integrate lynching and death penalty data (it is intriguing that Orange and Durham Counties had no reported lynchings, according to the EJI report, but among those counties with the most legal executions in the early 20th Century); address press coverage; and include attempted lynchings, not just those that resulted in a death.

The title, The Red Record, is drawn from Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work by the same name.

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