When you hear the term “absent Black father,” what comes to mind? Typically, the phrase refers simply to a dad who doesn’t live with his kids. However, my employer is seeking to add more nuance to that concept. My internship focuses on the historical component of this research. Along with one other student, I am reading though hundreds of interviews that were done in the 1930s with people who had lived in slavery. These interviews provide a glimpse into life under slavery, including the relationships between fathers and their children under those conditions.
Since the historical element of the research is still in its early stages, I have the chance to help develop the coding template we are using to understand the data. Each week, my co-worker and I meet with our employer to discuss the week’s findings, challenges, and successes, and to suggest ways to improve the process.
I have been learning a lot in my internship, both about the specific topic—fatherhood during slavery—and about scholarly research in general. The slave narratives are really interesting to read, I enjoy working with the research team, and I am able to participate in historical research for the first time. It’s been a great experience so far!