Using Twitter for Research

Two weeks ago I wrote about learning to use Twitter as a tool for research from my own Twitter handle, @HistoryByPaula. I began by seeking out a few slavery historians whose work I’ve read to see the types of information they share on Twitter. Then the ‘Who To Follow’ suggestions along the left-hand column of my page began suggesting other slavery historians whom I might want to follow. Slavery historians often included information about their institutions, organisations, and/or blogs in their short bio, leading me to even more Twitter accounts.

Nowadays my homepage is filled with new information and updates relating to British and American slavery, anti-slavery activities, new and forthcoming publications, conferences, and commentary on race and slavery in the news. I’ve also come across links to great resources. Here are a few that stood out me:

Slavery Footprint’s How Many Slaves Work for You?

This website, run by Made In A Free World, combines information on the frequency of slave labour use in various supply chains with your responses to their quiz to estimate how many slaves have worked for you. It then asks you to take action and provides a simple way to contact specific companies. Follow them @madeinafreewrld

Slate’s The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes

This beautifully simple map records over 20,000 journeys made by over 12.5 million Africans. It draws on the work and findings of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. The size of the dot used to represent each voyage reflects how many enslaved persons were on the ship. The map also has a handy chart superimposed on top of it showing the numbers of slaves transported and to where they were sent. Follow them @Slate

The Slave Dwelling Project

Founded by Joseph McGill, the Slave Dwelling Project is a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving slave dwellings in the United States. They work with communities, property owners, and government agencies to help preserve buildings and educate communities about the history of these properties. Perhaps their most innovative idea for spreading awareness are their Overnight Stays. Follow them @slavedwelling

The History of Parliament: Research

This database contains over 21,000 fully-cited articles on British MPs. For anyone who has spent hours searching through the many volumes of Thorne and Fisher to find out about the professional (and sometimes personal) history of an MP, this is a fantastic resource AND a huge time saver. The authors are currently developing additional thematic resources that build on this wealth of information. Follow them @HistParl

One of the neatest things about websites and organisations having Twitter accounts is that they then participate in a wider dialogue and encourage greater interaction with their work. As such, these web resources no longer seem to be static, unchanging sources of information, but instead become open to interpretation, collaboration, and change.

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