Resilient Coders reached out for help designing a website for NYU professor Michael Ralph, who's research is focused on highlighting the role of enslaved workers in American antebellum industries. The data, sourced from the historical records of some of the countries biggest insurance companies, tells the story of the powerless enslaved workers and the growth of America.
Currently being built by the team at Resilient Coders, the website is an interactive data visualization of Ralph's findings and works to piece together the stories of thousands of men and women whose lives have previously been lost in history.
Part of my job as the designer was to think about how to tell the stories found within the data. I wanted to create a site that could grow and expand with each new reading of the data, thus the data "chapters" on the map panel. Using Tableau, I explored the many ways the data could be portrayed and shown.
The Human Side
When thinking about what stories to tell, I also wanted to maintain and emphasize that each data point collected was more than a number, it was a human life. The records that Michael collected documented not only numbers, but the names of the slaves, where they were from and in some cases, family records. I thought this humanizing feature was so crucial and often overlooked when dealing with data from the time period, so I developed the idea of building all the visualizations off the single dot, which would link back to the person's full record.