mural of Black Rock Port

Black Rock became the official Port of Entry for Fairfield County in 1790 and its merchants played a significant role in the economic development of New England. One of the most successful Black Rock merchants and sea captains who also traded in the West Indies, was Thomas Bartram. Everything he did was so successful that it was said to turn to gold. And yet, little is known about him and the great fortune he created. The Thomas Bartram merchant project involves digitizing the original manuscripts and transcribing the documents for study and discovery of what life was like then.

Where do the funds go?

We greatly appreciate donations. We are doing a pay-as-you-go instead or raising the full amount needed prior to beginning development. It costs approximately $200 to put 100 lines of script text online.


What's special about this project?

We are not only just putting online, but we are using scholarly tools which conform to the best practices. All text online uses the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) to represent the text in digital form to ensure encoding methods that allow for optimal machine-readable texts. This means that our work becomes searchable online in the best possible manner and allows for students and scholars to continue to explore Black Rock history and culture.

The project involves the following steps:

  1. Digitization
  2. Transcribing
  3. Coding (in XML using the TEI Guidelines)
  4. Creating a summary for every page
  5. Creating a narrative story
  6. Create lesson plans
  7. Marketing for related events (ie. Connecticut History Day)

Meet Our Team:

Robert is the project leader. He is the founder of and has other related projects underway in need of funding. Robert has been involved with creating online exhibits for many years. His work contributed to the State of Connecticut signing into law that a Bridgeport aviation engineer was 'first in flight' instead of the Wright brothers. His motivation to lead this project: "there is so much to learn about local history, especially when we apply new digital tools. And in some cases history will need to be re-written as it was after Gustave Whitehead."

Rebecca Parker is our encoder and website developer. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Social Sciences and received a certificate in Digital Studies from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. She was employed at Pitt-Greensburg's Center for the Digital Text, and is currently getting her M.A. in Digital Humanities at Loyola University Chicago.

Susan and Beth are our transcribers. They are members of the DAR local chapter and have years of experience transcribing. They are members of the Genealogy Roundtable which meetings at the Pequot Library in Southport, CT on a regular basis. They are also descendents of many of the people mentioned in the merchant log books.

Max is our jQuery/JavaScript person, who for example implemented the magnifying glass function to allow for closeups of the manuscripts with just a mouse over.

Larissa is a volunteer. She provides summaries of the manuscript text after it is transcribed, encoded, and available online.