Chicago Humanities Festival: Baltimore’s Billie Holiday–A Life in Maps

November 2, 2018 6pm 500 N. Dearborn Suite 825

Lawrence Jackson—a writer, historian, and Johns Hopkins professor who specializes in recasting the study of modern African-American literature and culture—has a beguiling new project: to build an interactive digital map of the life of Baltimore native, Billie Holliday. Through the use of old-school research methods (i.e., poring over yellowed historic census records, city directories, maps, newspapers, and documents), Jackson and a team of his students are able to uncover previously undiscovered historic and contextual information—to reveal a life. The team then pours that found, analog data into a series of interactive online maps: richly layered with biographical snippets and historic artifacts, and willing to reveal their strata in whatever way a given user guides them to. We are pleased to have Jackson join us to share not only a visual tour of Billie Holliday’s Baltimore, but also a glimpse at the dazzling potential of the digital humanities.