Mapping Black History with Google Maps at Jim-Ree Museum
We’re on the map
A major challenge facing society today is the lack of diverse representation in historical documentation. Maps, including digital maps, are no exception. Learn how we’re using Google Maps to put — and keep — Black History “on the map” here at Jim-Ree Museum in our new documentary video.
In our new documentary video, we follow Google Maps Guiding Star and Jim-Ree Museum Co-Founder, April Hamm, on a journey to put our local Black History on the map.
The Journey begins at Pinetown Cemetery, one of the few remaining historically Black cemeteries in the United States. Although most “colored” cemeteries have been destroyed or built over, Pinetown Cemetery has been preserved as the sacred treasure it is by local descendants. In addition to preserving this location on-site — and online with Google Maps, we’ve published oral histories and stories in the Pinetown Cemetery Book by Jim-Ree Museum co-founder, Aurolyn Hamm-White.
Next, we visit the Granite Bowl, a football stadium and event venue made out of over 100,000 tons of the local area’s characteristic blue-gray granite. While the site has been listed as an historic landmark at the state level, African American contributions in the making of this landmark have not been well documented — until now. We’re collecting oral histories from some of the last living residents who would have been around when the Granite Bowl was built, including Jimmy White — our founder at Jim-Ree Museum.
The local justice system surrounds the Granite Bowl, with the current Sheriff’s department and other municipal offices on one side, the Courthouse, old jailhouse and former Sheriff’s residence on the other. That old jailhouse, another unprotected landmark, is our next stop on the Mapping Black History journey.
Housed in the historic county jail, the Jim-Ree African American Museum has reclaimed the space for educational and cultural preservation purposes. Our long-term vision is a site of healing for the descendants and loved ones of formerly enslaved and incarcerated persons.
Our journey comes full-circle back at the Pinetown Historic Colored Cemetery. We envision this place, too, as a site of healing and remembrance for descendants of all those laid to rest here.
April M. Hamm is a co-founder at Jim-Ree Museum and the creator of the Mapping Black History Project. The project aims to increase interest in user-generated content about African American landmarks and locations on major online platforms. Crowd-sourcing curated lists on Google Maps has been a great way to increase visibility of digitally marginalized locations at scale.
Support the Mapping Black History Project when you become a member of The Jim-Ree American Museum.
Jim-Ree Museum, Inc is a registered nonprofit under IRS code 501c3. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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