14 September 2020 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Sonia du Toit (Kaleidoscope Studio)
Dr Jared McDonald
Dr Jared McDonald is the lead contact for Southern African research on the One More Voice digital project.

A new digital humanities project, One More Voice, based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, brings together a number of researchers from the US, the UK, and Africa. These researchers include Dr Jared McDonald from the Department of History on the Qwaqwa Campus, who is a project scholar and the lead contact for Southern African research. 

“One More Voice intends to uncover and highlight long-neglected materials in the British imperial archive that illuminate the important roles played by African guides and assistants to famed Victorian explorers of the nineteenth century, such as David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. It also aims to recover lost voices and contributions that were either glossed over or deliberately excised by European explorers when recounting their travels in Africa. These materials appear in multiple forms, such as travel diaries, letters, autobiographies, maps, travel narratives, testimonies and oral histories, though they have seldom received scholarly or public attention,” said Dr McDonald, who is also Assistant Dean: the Humanities.

“This project challenges the notion of an intrepid European explorer ‘discovering’ new information and collecting data all by himself. Rather, it highlights that African guides, assistants, and companions played an instrumental role in these expeditions and they too left an archival footprint,” he added.

Dr McDonald further revealed that the project is trying to “recover unknown materials, theorise about these materials, and to see this aspect of history in a new and much more balanced way, one not just dominated by contemporaneous nineteenth century European perspectives.” 

Resource for teachers and students

The project welcomes all potential external collaborators based at archives, libraries, museums, and universities. Such collaboration can take multiple forms, such as identifying relevant primary materials, encoding primary materials for digital publication, critical scholarship of digitally curated items, and creating digital exhibitions. “All primary source materials collected by One More Voice are released under a Creative Commons licence, making them available for use by teachers, students, the public, and in scholarship via a user-friendly digital platform,” said Dr McDonald.

The project’s newly launched website is expanding at a rapid rate, offering high-resolution images of manuscript items and original artefacts, edited transcriptions, and critical essays. The digital platform brings to life a variety of African voices that have long been forgotten in the archives.

As the name of the project suggests, there is always one more voice to recover from the archives. It is directed by Prof Adrian Wisnicki, who is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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