I’m back at St. Olaf and ready for summer research! After spending a few months away from our H.T. Burleigh maps and progress on the musicalgeography.org website it has been surprisingly comforting to be back at the research routine. I am so impressed by the amount of data that our team collected on Burleigh over the month of January, as we were wrapping up I knew that we worked hard but now I’m beginning to appreciate how much progress we made. This next part of the H.T. Burleigh research will continue from where the January research left off. Since we were able to collect so much information, this summer is going to be all about asking bigger questions about where these data points can take us. We know a lot about where H.T. Burleigh performed or was performed, we know when, and sometimes we know what, but we don’t know all that much about what these spaces meant during their time. Were they segregated? If it was a religious institution what were the expectations of those spaces? If it was in a private home who sponsored it?
Working out who those homes belonged to and how to categorize them will be the kind of work to focus on in the upcoming months. Just as Reed discussed in her post, we need to get a better feel for the broader musical context of Jubilee singers, Gospel music, and Vaudeville that were not as separate as it might seem today. Just in the last two days I have been looking into some of Burleigh’s contemporaries and am starting to grasp how intertwined life in New York for black performers would’ve been.
While our task may be daunting I’m excited to get into the swing of things and see where our work takes us! Forward!