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USM Students Present on “Mapping Freedom” Research at Gulf South History & Humanities Conference

Wed, 11/29/2023 - 12:34pm | By: David Tisdale

USM Research

USM participants at the 2023 Gulf South History & Humanities Conference include, from left, Maeve Losen, manager for USM’s Center for Digital Humanities and students Quinten Williams, Dipper Nobles and Jaylin Jones (submitted photo).

Three University of Southern Mississippi (USM) undergraduate students who are part of its Mapping Freedom project made presentations on their research at the 2023 Gulf South History & Humanities Conference, hosted by the Gulf South Historical Association and held in Natchez, Mississippi in October. The student presenters were part of the panel presentation titled "Mapping Freedom: Mississippi in the Civil War Era.”

Student presentations were made in a panel format, followed by a Q&A/comment period regarding the panelists' research, then shifted to Q&A/comment on Mapping Freedom.

Mapping Freedom is a three-year digital humanities project at USM supported by a National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) grant examining the pathways to freedom and citizenship taken by emancipated slaves during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The project is a collaborative effort between digital humanities and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and using mapping technology, including geographic information system (GIS). 

USM students making up the panel and their presentations include the following:

*Jaylin Jones, a junior English major with dual minors in Black Studies and sociology and a student in the USM Honors College student, researched the Confederate government's impressment of enslaved labor, referring to the legal practice of seizing goods and people by the Confederate States of America (CSA) government to support the military during the American Civil War. His presentation was titled "The Confederate Impressment of Slaves in Mississippi and the Infrastructure of War – How Slave Labor Was Essential to the South's Military Successes."

*Dipper Nobles, a junior, history major with a library science minor and an Honors College student, researched the significance of salt and salt production during the American Civil War, specifically the impact of Union blockades and capture locations of salt production on the war effort, namely through increasing dependence on enslaved labor. His presentation was titled "The Impact of Salt and Slave Labor on the Confederacy and the Confederate War Effort during the American Civil War."

*Quinten Williams, a junior computer science major and history minor and an Honors College student, researched the degree to which Mississippians supported secession leading up to and during the American Civil War and the variety of reasons for such viewpoints, highlighting several events during the 1850s that contributed to the state leaving the Union. His presentation was titled "Mississippians’ Attitudes on Secession Before & During the American Civil War."

Maeve Losen, manager for USM’s Center for Digital Humanities, served as chair of the panel and praised the students for their work in preparing for the conference.

“It's not easy to go back to previous research, polish it, and present it at a conference typically attended by only graduate students and scholars--all during the semester, too,” Losen said. “This trio did an amazing job during their presentations and Q&A portion, thoughtfully responding to questions about their research and overall experiences during the program. Many scholars and faculty from other institutions found me later to compliment the panel and note their interest in Mapping Freedom.”

Losen cited the support of USM’s Center for Digital Humanities, the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research, and the Center for the Study of the Gulf South in providing the opportunity for her and the students to attend and participate in the conference.

“I’m also grateful to Dr. Rebecca Tuuri (USM History professor, Center for Study of the Gulf South co-director) who was an amazing resource,” Losen continued. “She helped us navigate the paperwork and permissions required to travel and attend the conference, and I cannot thank her enough for taking the time to guide us through those processes. Without any of their help, the panel would not have been possible.”