Methodology and Sources
To identify and research incidents of racial violence, we started with online databases of historical newspapers at newspapers.com and genealogybank.com. All newspaper articles displayed on this site come from these databases. We also utilized information and sources digitized by researchers in the CSDE Lynching Database.
Once we had identified a lynching or related incident of racial violence and learned all we could from contemporary newspaper accounts, we searched census, military, birth, death, family, and other records at ancestry.com. For most individuals, we were unable to find any conclusive sources documenting their lives in these records, but, when available, these provided valuable information for recreating victims’ lives, families, and humanity.
Occasionally, other sources also provided information that deepened our understanding of these individuals and the racial violence they faced, particularly Alabama Supreme Court cases at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
Students working on this project wanted to find a way to visually demonstrate the mindset of systemic dehumanization that enabled and justified racial violence, and we found a powerful source for that in the postcards of the Wade Hall Postcard Collection in the Troy University Libraries, displayed on this site on the “Mindset & Context” page.
Unless otherwise noted, photographs on this website were taken by project participants at the sites at which these individuals were lynched. We also collected soil from these lynching sites in remembrance of the victims, in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project, and displayed the collections and our research in an exhibit in the Troy University Library during the summer and fall of 2018.
We want to recognize the excellent work other students, historians, and organizations are performing to document lynchings and commemorate the victims.
–Alabama Memory by Dr. John Giggie and students at the University of Alabama documents lynchings in Alabama, starting in the region surrounding Tuscaloosa.
–Red Record by Dr. Seth Kotch, Dr. Elijah Gaddis, and students at the University of North Carolina documents lynchings in North and South Carolina.
-The Equal Justice Initiative has researched and documented well over 4000 lynchings in the Southern United States. You can find more information about their research, their report on the impact of lynching, and their museum and memorial here.
–Without Sanctuary provides dozens of examples of lynching photography and analysis of what these items tell us.
If you’re working on similar research, or have information to add, please contact us and let us know!