A Digital History Project: Colored Conventions Project

The Colored Convention Project focuses on bringing black organizing from the 19th Century to the digital realm.

African Americans attended political gatherings held at the state and federal levels from 1830 until well after the Civil War at various locations throughout the United States and Canada. These “Colored Conventions,” a foundation of Black organizing in the nineteenth century, brought Black men and women together in a prolonged struggle for civil and human rights. African Americans who were born free and those who had been enslaved had the chance to organize and plan for racial justice at these political gatherings. Pictured below is what a National Colored Convention resembled.

The Colored Conventions project argues the significance of collective Black mobilization’s long history, which includes time before, during, and after the Civil War. The well-attended Colored Conventions website demonstrates the range of cultural life and political ideas among Black communities and their leaders by packing churches, city halls, courthouses, lecture halls, and theaters. The Colored Conventions project discusses the most notable authors, activists, church leaders, newspaper editors, educators, and businesspeople in the history of early African American leadership attended the conference.

The website’s audience is extremely diverse, and its major objective is to expand people’s understanding of early Black activism. The sources are based on are flagship projects of the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State University.  The Colored Conventions Project uses digital means to restore the long-forgotten history of Black organizing in the nineteenth century. They do this by employing collaborative efforts to identify, organize, and archive the documentary record pertaining to this history that has been all but forgotten. It also creates interesting digital exhibits that emphasize key moments and ideas.

There is a section on the site that is called “Exhibts.” These exhibits enrich and broaden individual’s awareness of these practices and events. They were created in partnership with local and national educational partners as well as student contributors.

The Colored Convention Project, which was started in a graduate class at the University of Delaware, brings together academic institutions, the general public, and interdisciplinary scholars, students, librarians, independent researchers, and national teaching partners. This online endeavor built digital displays via transcriptions of these meeting that took place. The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation supported this project by grants.

Additionally, they offer access to hundreds of key sources from the lengthy conventions movement through a “Digital Recored.” Proceedings, newspaper stories, speeches, letters, transcripts, and photographs are examples of primary sources that they offer. The digital collections are arranged according to type, region, and year.


“Home.” Colored Conventions Project, February 1, 2022. https://coloredconventions.org/.