Blog Post #8

For this Voyant blog post I found the North American Slave Database to be quite interesting. As I was navigating through the database, I was trying to locate topics that discussed the African woman experience as a slave in the South. In my opinion I believe that during the 1800s the most overlooked, misrepresented, and under appreciated individual is the black woman. My research question is: “How did the the relationship between the slave owner and the African woman negatively affect how African(woman) slaves view their relationships with their spouse, children, and themselves.” Using the North American Slave Database  I was able to find a very informative narrative on Bethany Veney. Though her day-to-day activities was not as dreadful as other African American slave men and women. Her narrative does provide first hand historical context to the liveliness & activity that took place during in the heart of the South.

It was interesting to read on how the historical underpinnings of racism, sexism, and other unequal treatment would play a role in their faith with God. In the antebellum south, society back then allowed the white male slave owner to have powers/authority similar to a God. By having ownership and power on their side the owners can dictate the quality of life for these women. These woman probably felt helpless and felt the pain of being an inadequate parent, not being able to protect their children or even spouse(s) from the inhuman suffering. One example of this is stated in chapter four where Bethany is once again reminded that she is not a freed woman. Both herself and her potential lover belong to different slave owners, who could easily refute the marriage or ship them off to other plantations. The temptation to fall in love and have a lifelong bond was rarely ever an option. Since the laws deemed them as property, within this system slaveholders had all the authority. “I did not want him to make us promise that we would always be true to each other, forsaking all others, as the white people do in their marriage service, because I knew that at any time our masters could compel us to break such a promise; and I had never forgotten the lesson learned, so many years before, in the blackberry pasture.” ( Veney, Bishop Mallalieu Chapter IV pg.18)

After I entered the copied text into Voyant, the tools on the different sidebars were very useful for helping me reexamine my previous reading of the text. It allowed me to string together many word patterns/usages that I did not notice. With the recognition and comparison of color, the word cloud feature attributes important words with their size and color. There was a high frequency use of the word “master”. This features importance of using visual logic, allowed me to go back to the original document and do some text analysis. Which allowed me to understand that when the author was using the word “master”, the narrator was about to emphasize a key point(s) to the reader.

Some advantages to Voyant/ text analysis is that it is not just a search tool, it can also understand map and identify patterns and trends across any article. It can give the user detailed relevant information to help the user what additional research is needed. I also like how text analysis can process unstructured text and interpret the documents to identify relationships and concepts!

This is a link to the narrative I used from the North American Slave Database ^^

One thought on “Blog Post #8

  1. Your research question emphasizing the role of gender in the history of slavery sounds like it could lead to some promising results. I also enjoyed hearing your thoughts about the benefits and disadvantages of text analysis as well.

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