Embark on a digital history tour inspired by the Papers of Dr. Carl Russell Gross (1888-1971). Throughout his life, Providence-based physician Dr. Carl Russell Gross collected materials in service of a book that he was writing on Black history in Rhode Island. He drafted numerous timelines, each containing short notes on people and organizations, which were donated by his niece to Rhode Island College after his death. The stories on this tour take their inspiration from Dr. Gross’s notes—readers will find an excerpt from his manuscript after each story. Each vignette stands alone, but taken together we get a picture of an interconnected Black community with its members living, learning, and working throughout Rhode Island during the first half of the 20th century.
Subjects or Themes
African American History, Twentieth Century History
Text, Images, Video, Mapping, Tour
Curated by Jillian Estrada and Alexander Tum, students at Rhode Island College, and Amy Barlow, Associate Professor and Librarian at Rhode Island College, in partnership and consultation with Dr. Shawn Anthony Christian, Professor of English and African American Studies at Wheaton College, MA.
Host Institution / Affiliation / Project Location
John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University
Labor and Support
This project developed out of a first year seminar that I taught focused on the Papers of Dr. Carl Russell Gross (Rhode Island College Library Special Collections MSS-0002). When the seminar ended in Fall 2020, I contacted the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities about creating an interactive digital tour for the Rhode Tour platform (Note: Rhode Tour is a collaborative project of Brown University, the Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities). In Spring 2021, I applied for and won a major grant from the Rhode Island College Committee for Faculty Scholarship and Development. The grant funded student labor, compensation for scholar consultant with expertise in 20th century Black studies, and specialized subscriptions to resources like Ancestry.com. Research, writing, and curating the six stories that went into the tour involved four team members, including two undergraduate research assistants, one scholar consultant, and me. We completed our work throughout Summer 2021 and Fall 2021. The tour was reviewed and revised twice and then published in February 2022.
Partnerships, funding sources, or grant-funding acknowledgement
This tour was supported by a major grant from the Rhode Island College Committee for Faculty Scholarship and Development. Rhode Island College students in “First Year Seminar 100: Raid the Collections” (Fall 2020) conducted preliminary research under the direction of Professor Amy Barlow.