Path to Abolition – Narrative Mapping

This week’s technical activity required us to put together either a narrative or data map. I chose a narrative map. The reason behind choosing the narrative map over the data map was because I feel that, with regards to slavery, too many stories are lost to numbers. Too many enslaved people’s stories are not carried throughout history with the truth and emotion of their story being told. Although my project did not really get into the deep, emotional, and violent details that enslaved people endured on a daily basis, I just did not want to sweep all the fact of slavery into numbers and data.

Here is a link to my narrative map, I really hope you enjoy following it!

The process of making this narrative map was surprisingly very fun, and on top of that, it was very informative! Even though we have talked about all of these events during lecture, there is a different kind of understanding when the events are visually aligned with dates and locations. It really helped me visual the path of abolition. The first step of this project was trying to decide what I wanted to focus on that had a strong geographical background. I went through many options, but I stuck with the events that eventually led to abolition of slavery in the United States. Once I decided the topic, the next challenge came with pinpointing important events. I chose to focus on the first introduction of Africans to English colonies, and then the rise of the cotton gin that gave enslavers an incentive to continue and promote chattel slavery, followed by Nat Turner’s Rebellion to show the significance of black voices, then the symbolic success of the Emancipation Proclamation, which led to the passing of the 13th amendment. Following these events helped construct an understanding of the progression of slavery in the United States, and also a few events that changed the future for enslaved people. For example, Nat Turner’s Rebellion was led by an enslaved man Nat Turner, who decided to join together enslaved people in opposition to their enslavers. This was a new form of rebellion, where enslaved people finally showed their owners that they were not afraid to bring violence if it meant to give them a better life. While there were a remarkable number of revolts formed by enslaved people, Nat Turner’s stood out as one of the first that tried to undermine the movement and power of enslavers. I hope this narrative map encompasses some of the important events in the path of abolishing slavery in the United States.

One thought on “Path to Abolition – Narrative Mapping

  1. This is a fantastic story map that emphasizes stories of abolition and resistance! I also really appreciate your reasoning behind choosing a story map and I completely agree that statistics can further erase human identities. These are incredibly important ethical questions that historians must ask themselves before using such data.

    I am also glad to hear that you enjoyed the process of building the story map and that it was helpful to visualize the succession of events rather than simply read about them in Schermerhorn. I think your approach towards visualizing this history through the lens of abolition, rather than as a history of enslavement, was incredibly profound. It completely flips the narrative of events like the arrival of Africans to the English colonies into moments of resistance. We need more of this level of critical analysis in the field. Thank you for providing so many details in your narrative map, I really enjoyed reading through it!

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