After months of research and case file imaging and encoding, we are beginning to release the petitions for freedom that came before the Circuit Court of Washington, D.C. between 1808 and 1862. These releases are the first phase in our collaborative research project on early Washington, D.C. with the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). In the early period Francis Scott Key played a major role in orchestrating these petitions, but he also represented some of the slaveholder defendants. Our research goal is to uncover and encode the networks of relationships embedded in these cases. The next release will include the encoding of hundreds of individuals named (in depositions, summons, petitions, dockets, and other records) and the thousands of relationships among them (client of, mother of, father of, neighbor of . . .).

For the first release: go to O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C. Law and Family Project

Early Washington D.C. Law and Family Project

Special thanks to the team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Kaci Nash, project manager, Laura Weakly, Karin Dalzel, Mike Dick, Kylie McCormick, and Stephanie Camerone.