The history of slavery in Detroit was largely absent from public representations of the city’s history when Tiya Miles began the “Mapping Slavery in Detroit” website. As the Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and Professor of History and Native American Studies at the University of Michigan, Miles collaborated with undergraduate and graduate student researchers to create a publicly-accessible informational website about the history of slavery in Detroit. The website includes a map of Detroit that highlights spaces where events related to slavery took place, a series of travelogue posts by Miles and her students about the experience of visiting these sites, and graphs and statistics compiled from archival research that present tangible data about the slave economy in Detroit in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The resources and narratives of “Mapping Slavery in Detroit” are presented to the general public, primary, and secondary school educators, and academic communities alike. They provide insight and pedagogical tools for curious audiences within and beyond the Detroit-area. The project continues to develop and expand, and much of it is chronicled in Miles’s most recent book, The Dawn of Detroit (2017), which is based on her collaborative research into the Detroit’s lesser-known history of slavery.
Image courtesy of: Mark F. McPherson. Looking for Lisette: in quest of an American original (Dexter: Mage Press, 2001).