This is what I really been working on the past few weeks. The deadline for the proposal is April 1st and I wanted it in ahead of time to be reviewed by my professors. I had to make a ton of changes which did not bother me because I wanted it as perfect as possible. I was thinking that it would be one or two pages, but once I added my primary and secondary sources it soon stretched to thirteen pages. Good luck to whoever reviews it. Now, I present to you my senior honors thesis! (Minus the sources, unless you really want to read them all)
Honor’s Thesis Proposal
Fall 2013-Spring 2014
Seeds of Freedom: A Digital History of the Flowers Family
African Americans have been fighting for freedom long before the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. For the Flowers family, this fight for freedom began in 1864 when Harry Flowers enlisted in the American Civil War, yet the fight for freedom did not stop there. Harry planted seeds of freedom within his children continuing a fight for justice. Through an exploration of this family’s ancestry, the accomplishments of the Flowers family will be constructed in a digital family tree. Their stories display the trials of most African Americans and the harsh reality of American history. This history contains stories of enslavement, discrimination, migration, segregation, black mobility, and civil rights. This family tree will highlight the biographies of Harry Flowers, Chauncey Flowers, Rachel Flowers, Vincent Flowers, Gladys Flowers Stevenson, Henry Sams, Hilda Flowers Wilson, and Geraldine Wilson. Nearly every member of the Flowers family has played a critical role in events which have shaped American history from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement.
The complexity of researching the genealogy of African Americans have improved, however, there continues to be issues in finding information on families prior to the Civil War. Even after the Civil War, African Americans were not thoroughly documented in census, marriage, or death records. African Americans held their own history through oral testimonies, autobiographical narratives, songs, and religion. Scholarly histories of African Americans came during the early twentieth century with prominent historians W.E.B Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson. This research will use slave narratives, oral histories, and written histories by African Americans to shape this family story along with census documents, death indexes, war records, newspaper articles, and a few personal statements, diaries, and papers. These sources are collected from digitalized online collections and documents from the Mississippi State Archives. In order to fully share their past, the use of current technology will be used to gather, preserve, and present the Flowers family. This research will be a gift to the Messiah community for it is about the family of two notable alumni—Rachel and Vincent Flowers.
The majority of the Flowers family project is composed of primary sources mainly newspaper articles from the Philadelphia Tribune and the Afro-American Baltimore. Other primary sources include census documents, Civil war registration and pension records, World War I and II draft records, cemetery records, college records, Social Security Death Indexes, city directories, and land deeds.
The literature being used in this research will compose background information on topics such as race relations in Florida, the Great Migration, blacks in Pennsylvania (social life, black power movements, and religion), golf, the 21st United States Colored Troop, and the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia and Mississippi.
For this project, I will need financial support to continue subscriptions with Ancestry and Fold3 online genealogical databases. Fold3 contains the web’s largest database of original military records. It will be use to collect the military records of Harry F. Flowers, Chauncey Flowers, Vincent Flowers, and Henry Sams. Access to ProQuest Black Newsstand database will also be needed primarily during the fall semester to continue collecting articles relating to the Flowers family.
This research cannot be officially concluded until 2052 with the release of the 1980 Federal Census and other public records that cannot be released at the moment due to privacy acts. Also due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, it is impossible to view the school records of Rachel and Vincent Flowers without their consent. Aside from this research, I will also be searching for living family members and working with a local historian in Harrisburg. Historical time capsules will be left for future history students to continue research on the Flowers family in order to complete their history. This research has also gained the attention of the Intercultural Office and a presentation will be made for Black History Month in February 2014 as well as presentations to fulfill the requirements of the Friends of the Library Research Grant and SGA Grant.
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