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OI 2021 annual conference

Material World/ Virtual World:  the Physical and the Digital in Vast Early America          

The 26th OI annual conference will convene June 17-19, 2021, ONLINE.

A note regarding payment

We encourage all participants in the annual conference to consider becoming an OI Associate (or to rejoin if not currently active) at whatever level suits their budget. We also have available a number of sponsored memberships each year for those who would like to participate but cannot afford to do so at any level thanks to the contributions of current Associates. Please just email us for more information on that program.

In addition, we understand that 2020-21 has been an exceptionally difficult year for many. We will not turn anyone away from any OI 26th Annual Conference proceeding and have published the links to each session. We are eager to connect with you and look forward to seeing you on Zoom, June 17-19, 2021.

We hope to gather in Williamsburg, Virginia, for our 2022 conference. More details regarding that event will be published later in summer 2021.

Conference theme and format

The OI 2021 conference focuses on two intersecting ways of comprehending the vast early American past: the material and the virtual.  New methods and multi-disciplinary perspectives are encouraging and advancing scholarship on both material culture and digital space, and how scholars are integrating the two. The OI annual conference for 2021 debuts a new conference format alongside a thematic focus on the ways that digital and material scholarship are remaking our understandings of Vast Early America.

The OI’s 2021 annual conference also emphasizes important collaborations.  We want to build on, and expand, exciting new developments in the field, including those showcased at the 2019 OI annual conference in Pittsburgh on “the local and the global: scales in Vast Early America,” the recent past and future William and Mary Quarterly – Early Modern Studies Institute (WMQ-EMSI) workshops at the Huntington on digital projects, archaeology, and material culture, and the critical conversations happening right here at William & Mary, including those resulting from the 2019 Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) conference.

The conference will include a set of “leading stories,” methodological, theoretical, or subject specific foci introduced in an opening plenary that serve as organizing themes for workshops and other sessions.

Program committee:

Jody Allen, William & Mary
Sara Bon-Harper, James Monroe’s Highland
Jillian Galle, The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS)/Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
Ashley Glassburn, University of Windsor
Audrey Horning, William & Mary and Queen’s University, Belfast
Susan Kern, William & Mary
Ann Little, Colorado State University
Bertrand van Ruymbeke, Université de Paris
Buck Woodard, American University

Program of Events

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Registration Zoom room opens


  1.  THis Camp 1 with Jessica Parr: Palladio (an introduction to datasets)
    Zoom Room 1
  2. Lightning Round—Mapping and GIS
    Zoom Room 2

Adam Costanzo (Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi)
“Using GIS to Map and Analyze Federal Land Sales and Urban Growth in Washington, DC, 1790-1810”

Molly Nebiolo (Northeastern University)
” Visualizing Colonial Philadelphia: 3D Modelling, VR, and Conceptualizing Early American Space Using DH”

Jessica Taylor (Virginia Tech University)
“Mapping Property Boundaries and Nonelite Movement in the Chesapeake”

Joris van den Tol (Harvard University)

“Digitally Mapping Transnational Advocacy Networks: the Anglo-Dutch Lobby in the 17th c. Atlantic”


3. Leading Story: “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Slavery Studies”
How do we make this work accessible?

Zoom Room 1

Jajuan Johnson (William & Mary, Lemon Project), Chair/Comment

Jillian Galle (DAACS)
“The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery: Case studies in collaboration and open access”

Tiffany Momon (Sewanee University) and Torren Gatson (UNC Greensboro)
“Revealing the Invisible Black Landscape: Spatially Mapping African American Skilled Craftsmen in Charleston, South Carolina through the Black Craftsman Digital Archive”

Michael Jarvis (University of Rochester)
“Virtual Visits to Places of Pain: Elmina Castle in Ghana” (overview)


4. “Limits of Materiality” 
Zoom Room 1

Anne Verplanck (Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg), Chair/Comment

Holly Brewer (University of Maryland)
“Creating a Fashion for Slavery in the English court(s)”

Susan Garfinkel (University of Maryland and Library of Congress)
“’W. Penns Treaty Plate’: An Excavation”

Ana Schwartz (University of Texas)
“’Almost Beaver Brothers’: Settler Colonialism, Material Culture, and Other-than-Human Entanglement”

5. “Political Things: Rethinking Material and Political Cultures in Vast Early America”
Zoom Room 2

Moderator: Morgan McCullough (William & Mary)

Zara Anishanslin (University of Delaware)
“London Patriots”

Catherine E. Kelly (Omohundro Institute)
“Joshua Upham’s Painting, William Upham’s Retrieval, and Loyalism’s Affective Hangover”

Harrison Diskin (University of Southern California)
“’Rather a Molehill than a Fort’: Building Sovereignty in Nieuw Amsterdam”

Erin B. Kramer (Trinity University)
“Shelter and Kaswentha in King William’s War”

Jennifer C. Van Horn (University of Delaware)
“Painted Afterlives: The Politics of Race and Representation in Early American Portraiture”

6. “Archaeological Perspectives on Slavery and Emancipation in the British Caribbean”
Zoom Room 3

Susan Kern (William & Mary, Historic Campus), Chair/Comment

Fraser Neiman (Director of Archaeology, Monticello)
“Dynamics of Internal Markets in Slave Societies if the British Caribbean: An Archaeological Perspective”

Jillian Galle (Director of DAACS, Monticello)
“Fishing and Foraging at the Stewart Castle Estate: Enslaved Children’s Contributions to the Market Activities of Enslaved Households in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica”

Suzanne Francis-Brown (Hon. Research Fellow, University of the West Indies Museum) and Jillian E. Galle
“The Material Impacts of Agricultural Diversification and Amelioration on Enslaved Laborers in Colonia Jamaica: An Archaeological Perspective” 

Friday, June 18, 2021


Registration Zoom room opens


7. Lightning Rounds: Environmental Histories/Material Cultures
Zoom Room 1

Arinn Amer (CUNY)
“Tar Dreams in the 16th c Anglo-Atlantic Archive”

Camden Elliott (Harvard University)
“Environmental Histories of the Global Seven Years’ War”

Kate Mulry (California State University, Bakersfield)
“‘it nourisheth the Child in the Womb’: Chocolate, Reproduction, and Colonization in 17th c Jamaica”

Jennifer Levin (University of Virginia)
“The Gulf South Borderlands: Local and Circum-Caribbean Trade Networks and Collaboration, 1701-1721”

Nicholas Crawford (Washington University in St. Louis)
“Sustaining Rebellion: Food, Fugitivity, and Freedom in the 18th and 19th-century British Caribbean”

8. Lightning Rounds: Colonial America
Zoom Room 2

Adam Nadeau (University of New Brunswick)
“Eastern Luxury, Asiatic Despotism, and Colonial Reactions to Lord North’s Imperial Policy, 1773-74”

Joanna Labor (University of Maryland)
“Denied!: A Repudiation of Southern Hospitality in Colonial Virginia”

Karen Sutton (Morgan State University)
“The Nickens Nine: Free African Americans in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties, Virginia, during the American Revolution”

Judith Ridner (Mississippi State University)
“Broad Brims, Caps, Flat Hats, and Bonnets: The Shifting Politics of Quaker Dress in the Delaware Valley”

9. Lightning Rounds: Digital Technologies
Zoom Room 3

Jeffery R. Appelhans (American Philosophical Society)
“Promoting Useful Knowledge for the Next Generation: Early Atlantic Books & 21st c. Digital Bibliography”

John O’Keefe (Ohio University-Chillicothe)
“Using a Relational Database for Conducting Research on Federal Alien Registrations, 1799-1802”

Steve Hackel (University of California, Riverside) and Natale Zappia (California State University, Northridge)
“Early California Cultural Project: Visualizing Uncertainties within Indigenous History”

Angel-Luke O’Donnell (King’s College London)
“Printing the 1776 Pennsylvania State Constitution: The Material Text and the Digital Facsimile”


10. Leading story: “The Consequences of the Virtual”
What happens when we make things digital?

Zoom Room 1

Karin Wulf (Omohundro Institute), Chair/Comment

Janine Yorimoto Boldt (Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Colonial Virginia Portraits: The Opportunities and Challenges of a Visual Database”                            

Carl Lounsbury (William & Mary)
“Eyre Hall: The Material and Cultural Legacy of an Eastern Shore Plantation: Preserving and Providing Access to a Private Research Database”

Josh Greenberg (Omohundro Institute, Editor of
“A New Commonplace, Or, How To Refresh Your Digital Humanities Browser”

Erin Holmes (University of Missouri)
 “Between the Word and the World: What is Lost and What is Gained by Translating Material Narratives to a Digital World?”


11. “Thinking the British Empire Whole: A Methodological Framework”
Zoom Room 1

David Hancock (University of Michigan), Chair/Comment

Tiraana Bains (Yale University) and Steven Pincus (University of Chicago)
“Reconnecting the British Empire in America and India”

Al Zuercher Reichardt (University of Missouri)
“Rethinking the Walking Purchase: Settlement Schemes, Sugar Debates, and Global Empire(s)”

Megan Lindsay Cherry (North Carolina State University)
“Reframing America’s First Play in an Atlantic Context: Political Economy in Androboros

Maeve Kane (University at Albany)
“A Different Extraction From the English: Settler Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Haudenosaunee Diplomacy”

12. “Digital Moravians”
Zoom Room 2

Rachel Wheeler (IUPUI), Chair and Comment

Mark Sciuchetti (Jacksonville State University)
“Digitization, Mapping, and the Moravian World”

Sarah Eyerly (Florida State University)
“Reconstructing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Moravian Missions”

Gregory Specter (Independent Scholar)
“Doing Moravian DH from Academia’s Precarious Margins”

Katherine Faull (Bucknell University)
“Digital Afterlives: Moravian Archives and the Age of Technology”

13. “Material and Digital Approaches to Labor, Health, and the Political Ecology of Slavery”
Zoom Room 3

Cindy Ermus (University of Texas at San Antonio), Chair/Comment

Christopher M. Blakley (Occidental College)
“Clysters, Pills, and ‘Chymical Oils’: Medical Pluralism and the Materiality of Nassaw’s Labor”

(Note: Since this session was proposed in late 2019, this paper has been published in Medical History.)

Sara E. Collini (Clemson University)
“Building a Relational Database to Explore Enslaved Midwives’ Work on Early Southern Plantations”

Sean M. Gallagher (American Philosophical Society)
“Making War, Remaking Slavery: Southern Environments, White Health, and the Continental Army’s Plantation Body”

Zachary Dorner (University of Maryland)
“Barwick Bruce’s Barbados: The Work and Business of Health in the 1790s British Caribbean.”

14. “Staking Claims in Contested Spaces: Households and Gender in Colonial and Revolutionary America”
Zoom Room 4

Serena Zabin (Carleton College), Chair/Comment

Caylin Carbonell (American Antiquarian Society)
“’When my master and mistris went abroad’: Space, Gender, and Authority in Early New England Households”

Sara Damiano (Texas State University)
“’A Writ Against My Husband’: Households as Spaces of Litigation in Colonial Port Cities”

Lauren Duval (University of Oklahoma)
“Domestic Idols and ‘Inanimate Things’: Revolutionary Households under British Military Rule”

Saturday, June 19, 2021


Registration Zoom room opens


15. Lightning Rounds: Mapping Policy
Zoom Room 1

Cynthia Van Zandt (University of New Hampshire)
“Transatlantic English Politics in Indigenous Spaces”

William Schmidt (Independent Scholar)
“The Rileys, the Network, Indian Policy, and Land”

16. Lightning Rounds: Material Culture
Zoom Room 2

George Elliott (Brown University)
“Alchemy & Architecture: The Place of Gershom Bulkeley’s 17th c. Laboratory within his New England Home”

Morgan McCullough (William & Mary)
“Cloth, Bodies, and Race: Enslaved Women in the Early American South”

Joanne Jahnke Wagner (University of Minnesota)
“Violence and the Material Archive”

Case Study: “Building the Flowerdew Hundred Archaeological Archive in DAACS: Analyzing Legacy Documentary Data to Understand the Emergence of Enslaved Societies at Flowerdew Hundred Plantation”

Elizabeth Bollwerk (presenting)

Jillian Galle

Lynsey Bates

Leslie Cooper

Fraser Neiman


17. Leading Story: “Interpreting the Early American Indigenous Landscape: Using Big Data, GIS Technology, and Oral Tradition to Change the Narrative”
Zoom Room 1

Buck Woodard (American University), Chair/Comment

Julia A. King (St. Mary’s College of Maryland)
“Revealing the Rappahannock Indian Landscape”

Scott M. Strickland (Project Archaeologist/GIS Manager, St. Mary’s College of Maryland)
“Viewshed Analysis and the Importance of Visibility in the Native Chesapeake Landscape”

Jolene Smith (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)
“Opening* Archaeological Archives: Public Archaeology Futures and Challenges”

Ashley Glassburn (University of Windsor)
“Decolonial Dreaming while Investing in Colonial Archives: searching for a home for Myaamia language files”


18. “Race and Slavery in the Dutch Atlantic”
Zoom Room 1

Dienke Hondius (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Chair/Comment

Danny Noorlander (SUNY Oneonta)
“Euro-African Intimacy on the Gold Coast in the 1640s: The Case of Jacob Steendam”

Nicole Maskiell (University of South Carolina)
“Dutch Masters: Family, Slavery, and the Survival of Dutch Elite Merchant Networks”

Michael Douma (Georgetown University)
“Estimating the Size of the Dutch-Speaking Slave Population of New York in the 18th c.”

19. Roundtable: “Naming and Colonial Appropriation”
Zoom Room 2

Paul Musselwhite (Dartmouth College), Chair/Comment

Brad Wood (Eastern Kentucky University)
“The Digital Lives of Place Names in British America, c. 1650-1740”

Mary Draper (Midwestern State University)
“The Language of Wind in the Early Modern British Caribbean”

Jack Bouchard (Folger Library)
“Recovering Lost Seascapes: Maritime place-names and geographies in the 15th & 16th c. Atlantic”

Margaret Williamson (Dartmouth College)
“Men, Stallions and Other Animals: Animal and Slave Naming in 18th-Century Jamaica”

Kaila Knight Schwartz (William & Mary)
“Same Name, Different Meaning: What Can a Name Tell Us about Embedded Assumptions?”

20. “Visualizing Slavery: Digital Humanities Techniques in Analyzing Abolitionism and Fugitivity in Vast Early America”
Zoom Room 3

Emily M.N. Kugler (Howard University), Chair/Comment

Jessica Parr (Simmons University)
“Using data visualization to trace the writings of Black intellectuals”

Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins University)
“Seeing Null: Data and Black Life in Colonial Louisiana”

Christy Hyman (University of Nebraska)
“Using geospatial technique to map fugitivity in the Great Dismal Swamp”

21. “Anglicization of and through Law: British North America, Ireland, and India Compared, 1540-1800”
Zoom Room 4

  • Jennifer Wells (George Washington University), Chair/Comment
  • Richard Ross (University of Illinois)
  • Jane Ohlmeyer (Trinity College, Dublin)
  • Philip Stern (Duke University)


  • Jennifer Wells (George Washington University)
  • Paul Halliday (University of Virginia)
  • Andrew Mackillop (University of Glasgow)