We are thrilled to recognize The 1838 Black Metropolis and its creators Morgan Lloyd and Michiko Quinones with the Library Company of Philadelphia’s 2023 Innovation Award, which honors a project that creatively expands the possibilities of humanistic scholarship on the history and culture of the United States and the Atlantic World from the 17th to the late 19th century.
The 1838 Black Metropolis is a multifaceted movement that takes the 1838 Pennsylvania Abolition Society census records (housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania) as a starting point to illuminate and disseminate colonial and antebellum Philadelphia Black history. Through walking tours, online resources, mapping, social media, curriculum-building, artistic innovations, creative use of AI, and more, the project brings archival resources, research findings, and historical stories to viewers, participants, descendants, and learners across the city and beyond.
“Our work has been to restore the knowledge of the size, history, and achievements of what we lovingly call Philly’s Black Metropolis, and bring it back into public awareness and consciousness,” Morgan explained. “We are bringing back lost histories and tying them firmly to the present,” said Michiko. In their words, the 1838 Black Metropolis aims to:
- Reclaim the geographic spaces of colonial and antebellum Philadelphia Black history through walking tours and events;
- Restore our collective knowledge of free Black history in Philadelphia through talks, trainings, and curriculum and museum education tools; and
- Recenter the free Black population’s ongoing efforts for emancipation through disciplined historical research and writing.
Morgan and Michiko offer this vision for the project’s future: “Our hope is that this history becomes a staple within the story of Philadelphia, for every Philadelphian and for every American—and that the story expands into a national understanding and narrative. And we hope that you join us in making that happen.”
Please follow the ongoing work of The 1838 Black Metropolis on the web, on social media (@1838blackmetropolis), and around the city, and join us in congratulating and honoring its accomplished creators!
Morgan Lloyd is a curator and community arts administrator. She is the Programming Coordinator at the African American History Museum in Philadelphia and past Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Michiko Quinones is a public historian and museum docent. Co-founder of the Black Docents Collective and co-host of the Philly People Now Deceased Podcast, she is pursuing a graduate degree in Museum Studies at the Harvard Extension School.
The Innovation Award is made possible with the support of our Founding Sponsor, Randall M. Miller, PhD
2021 INNOVATION AWARD
Dr. Elizabeth Rule
Guide to Indigenous DC
Guide to Indigenous DC is a digital map, mobile application, and monograph of sites of Indigenous importance in the nation’s capital. By highlighting sites of importance to Native peoples within, and contributions to, Washington, DC, Guide to Indigenous DC showcases empowering stories of how this prominent city is a place of tribal gathering, presence, and advocacy with a long, rich history. Users of this free iOS application have access to a map of 17 sites of Indigenous importance, including photos, descriptions, and external resources, and can be used for both in-person touring or virtual tours with 360-degree on-the-ground views of the sites. In 2023, Dr. Rule published Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital, a book that complements the mobile guide.
Dr. Elizabeth Rule is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University and an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.
2021 HONORABLE MENTIONS
Xóchitl Flores-Marcial, Moisés García Guzmán, Felipe H. Lopez, George Aaron Broadwell, Alejandra Dubcovsky, May Helena Plumb, Mike Zarafonetis, and Brook Danielle
Caseidyneën Saën – Learning Together
A volume of open-access pedagogical resources centered on an archival corpus of Valley Zapotec-language materials created during the Mexican Colonial period
Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone
An investigate journalism project and associated database that illuminate how the United States funded land-grant universities with expropriated Indigenous land
2019 INNOVATION AWARD
Dr. Sari Altschuler and Dr. Weimer
Developed with a team of librarians, scholars, and engineers, Touch This Page! reproduces tactile facsimiles of pages printed for blind and low-vision readers in order to make the experience of reading these books publicly accessible for the first time in over a century. Touch This Page! enlivens issues of disability history through the widely shared experience of reading while illustrating how and why digital humanities projects must expand beyond visual forms.
Dr. Sari Altschuler is Associate Professor of English and Founding Director of the Health, Humanities, and Society initiative at Northeastern University. Dr. David Weimer was the Librarian for Cartographic Collections and Learning at the Harvard Map Collection at the time this award was made; he is now the Curator of Maps and Director of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library.
2019 HONORABLE MENTIONS
Dr. Ellery Foutch
Sheldon Relic Chair
A course-based collaborative project that enlists undergraduates in curation, fabrication, and local history
Dr. Lana Finley (Thea Wirsching)
The American Renaissance Tarot
A 78-card Tarot deck and companion book that introduces students to American literary and religious history
In 1731, the Library Company’s founders came together to test an innovative learning model: what might happen if a group of readers formed a collective to acquire new books and share ideas? Almost three hundred years later, our Biennial Innovation Award was established to honor a contemporary scholarly project that bridges conventional disciplines, engages new partners or audiences, makes effective use of technologies, or otherwise extends the reach of humanities scholarship in creative ways.
The award recognizes innovative projects that creatively expand the possibilities of humanistic scholarship on the history and culture of the United States or the Atlantic World from the 17th to the late 19th century, particularly in fields in which the Library Company’s collections are strong, such as African American history, American visual culture, history of popular medicine, early American economy, the history of books and printing, and the history of women and gender.
Applications for the next Biennial Innovation Award will open in 2025.