Beyond the Vale is a project that I intend to continue to work on. I plan to enroll in a doctoral program that will allow me to pursue it in an academic context, and I also hope to work on it in my spare time. My first step is to present a copy of my work to the Craven County Public Library. I hope that they will deem my visualizations informative enough to be included on their website as a digital resource for local researchers. I will also discuss the best way to preserve my original database with them. Ideally, interested parties would be able to access the database in order to make necessary changes or additions. If this is not possible using the Public Library website, I have created my own website as a permanent online home for Beyond the Vale (beyondthevale.commons.gc.cuny.edu). This option allows for maximum control over my own work, including the ability for myself and others to make changes to it. The biggest change I intend to make is to expand the scale of the project.
In its current iteration, Beyond the Vale only includes information from Gooding’s Township. Going forward, I would like for it to encompass the entire county of Craven and in time, the entire state. While this goal was deemed too expansive for a master’s level study it may work well for a doctoral project, allowing me to explore regional trends and variations throughout the state. In the future, I would also like to include data from pre-1860s censes. This would allow researchers to see how the slave system changed over time and to identify important temporally-specific characteristics or trends. Unfortunately, utilizing a broader range of census data requires tools and methodologies that I do not yet have the proficiency to employ. However, with time, I am confident that I can gain the skills necessary to process a wider variety of information.
I believe that Beyond the Vale is successful in proving the utility of historical population data in the study of slavery in antebellum Craven County. While resources like the 1860 Federal Census cannot tell us everything about the lives of Craven’s enslaved residents, this project shows how the data they provide can be used to shed new light on aspects of the slave system that have yet to be thoroughly explored. Beyond the Vale provides one of the first sets of quantitative data on the study of slavery in antebellum Craven County. Hopefully, it will encourage further scholarship and facilitate the design of new and better methods of gathering and analyzing historic information on this long-neglected subject.