The Personal Writes the Political: Securely Rendering Black Lives Legible Through the Application of Advanced Machine Learning (ML) to Anti-Apartheid Solidarity Letters


ACLS Digital Justice Development Grants


Data Science Lab


The Personal Writes the Political (PWP) is a digital humanities project that applies advanced machine learning (ML) models to anti-apartheid solidarity letters predominantly authored by Black South African women. We created a software pipeline called Careful Recall (Caracal) which automates the transcription of handwritten materials into machine readable text and conducts named entity recognition to distinguish between private identifying information from relevant research data in highly sensitive handwritten archives. We will use Caracal to extract modest datasets from selections of thematically united letters we call focal clusters. In addition we will conduct skills transfer to this collections' home archive, the Mayibuye Centre Archive.