We are creating On the Line, both a book and a digital history project, to explore how struggles over schooling and housing boundary lines have increasingly shaped the Hartford, Connecticut metropolitan region over the past century.

The "long civil rights movement" is also a spatially widening one, and our city and suburban histories are connected by the very lines that separate us. Our past has been shaped by real estate agents who maintained the color line, mortgage lenders who engaged in redlining, elected officials who drew exclusionary zoning lines, and homebuyers who shopped for better public schools across attendance area lines. As the privileged relationship between public schooling and private housing grew stronger over time, civil rights activists fought for the power to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines.

Our work will generate two interconnected products, scheduled to be released in 2011-12:

The Book, a published historical narrative, in two formats:
book symbol The printed book, which refers readers to supporting digital history content on the freely accessible website.
eBook The enhanced e-book, readable on web browsers or mobile devices, with embedded links to bring readers automatically to the digital history content. For one model, see the Long Civil Rights Movement (LCRM) pilot platform by the University of North Carolina, or this short video demonstration of its features.
The Digital History Project, a freely accessible website that features:
Web map symbol Web-based interactive maps, to explore the changing geography of inequality, with downloadable GIS files for further research.
Hist sources Historical source materials to examine the evidence, such as online photographs, primary documents, oral history interviews, video clips, and data visualizations. Future public history with Hartford-area residents will add more content from experiences of living and learning on different sides of the lines.

The Book and Digital History Project are distinct products that are designed to accompany one another. Readers will look to the book text for historical narrative and interpretation, and interact with the online maps and source materials for historical discovery and further investigation. Web resources will refer viewers to the appropriate page of the book, in the same way that the book links readers to specific items on the free website.

Readers using the enhanced e-book format will have the advantage of moving instantly from the main text to the digital history resources, to explore the author's analysis through first-hand examination of the evidence. Educators may choose to structure their lessons in the opposite direction, by assigning students to begin an evidence-based historical inquiry on the website, then formulate their own interpretation and compare it to the author's analysis in the book.

Our research is supported by the NEH Fellowships at Digital Humanities Centers program for 2010-11, and our proposal (September 2009) is available for download. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website or related publications do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Our project represents a collaborative effort by historians, geographers, technology specialists, and editorial advisors from three institutions:

For more information, contact:

Jack Dougherty
Associate Professor of Educational Studies
and the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project
Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Jean-Pierre Haeberly and David Tatem
Academic Computing, Trinity College

Creative Commons License
On The Line: a digital history project, by Jack Dougherty and collaborators, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, except for third-party content marked otherwise.

Page last updated on May 24, 2010