Okefenokee Heritage Center
The Okefenokee Heritage Center (OHC) is a regional art and history museum located in Waycross, Georgia. The OHC houses exhibits on the history and development of the region including “From These Roots,” an exhibit that documents the rich history of contributions of African-Americans to the region. Black pioneers such as Dr. G.P. Washington, who was the first black doctor in Waycross, opened the area’s first black hospital in 1890. Dr. O.C. Wynn established the lowest infant mortality rates in the country in the 1930s. These are just some of the great African-Americans who are honored in the exhibit. The Red Hill Cemetery Project is collaborating with Carla Cornett King, Director, and former director Elizabeth Welch, to document and archive the abandoned African American cemetery.
Okefenokee Heritage Center’s Black Heritage Committee
Several people in southeast Georgia are helping to resolve legal issues and create a plan to restore the Red Hill Cemetery. Among these volunteers are Willie Character (1939-2022) and the members of the Okefenokee Heritage Center’s Black Heritage Committee. They are identifying the people buried in Red Hill. The volunteers aren’t asking the local government to fix and maintain the site. They are willing to take on the job themselves. But to do that, they need the county to grant them legal status so they can apply for grants.
David Sheffler, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of North Florida, is the project lead for the Red Hill Cemetery Project and archives. Dr. Sheffler is the liaison with the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross, Georgia and the Okefenokee Heritage Center’s Black Heritage Committee. He also coordinates the work with students gathering data and mapping the cemetery.
Felicia Bevel is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Florida. Her research and teaching interests include African American History, U.S. cultural history, and southern studies. Her current book project examines twentieth century American cultural productions that romanticized the Old South and circulated outside the U.S. In addition to teaching, she also serves on the UNF Digital Humanities Institute’s Advisory Board and the Africana Studies Planning Committee.
Michael Boyles is the graphic designer for the Center for Instruction and Research Technology (CIRT) at UNF. As a creative collaborator since the project’s inception in 2017, he has assisted with the design and execution of the Red Hill Cemetery websites as well as the the vision to develop a “virtual cemetery” where family members, the community of Waycross, and researchers can search the history of the cemetery. Michael works with Omeka S to build the digital cultural heritage database of custom ontology for vital statistics gathered from death certificates of burials in Red Hill Cemetery.
Carol Lynne Hemmingway
Carol Lynne Hemmingway is a history major at the University of North Florida and has a passionate interest in developing databases to archive documents and to be able to share them with the public. Lynne has experience working in Omeka Classic, and has helped to build and refine the database of custom ontology for death certificates as well as implementing the module to search with numeric values.
Department of History
The Department of History at UNF works with organizing meetings with the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross, Georgia, as well as the management of grants and travel.
Center for Instruction and Research Technology
The Center for Instruction and Research Technology (CIRT) supports the project with Michael Boyles in creating the websites and technology assistance. CIRT also supports the project through UNF Faculty Domains, part of the Domain of One's Own program, which is a full featured web hosting solution that offers the opportunity to create academic publishing spaces using modern web applications.
We want to thank Sharon Leon, associate professor of history and digital humanities at Michigan State University for her help with Omeka S and updating data in the custom ontology. Dr. Leon directs the Omeka web-publishing platform project, which provides a number of open-source options for digital scholarly communication and public engagement work: Omeka S, for linked data work and Omeka.net for a hosted solution.