Welcome to Matrix

Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences works with museums, libraries, archives, and heritage sites to digitize, preserve, and provide access to collections of cultural and historical materials. We collaborate with scholars, educators, institutions, and community members to create tools and digital experiences that engage researchers, students, and the public in questions about the past and our shared culture. We build software and services that enable the analysis and interpretation of historical and cultural data in new and innovative ways. We work with students, scholars, communities, and institutions to build critical digital skills, capacity, and infrastructure.

Recent News

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MATRIX scholars visit Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in India for cultural exchange

In 2017, Matrix collaborated with the MSU Museum to continue building exciting partnership activities with the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune, India. The MSU Museum launched a formal staff exchange program with BORI in September 2016 that focuses on Indian and Indian American history and culture, and as part of this exchange Dr. Dean Rehberger, Director of MATRIX; Dr.Walter Hawthorne, Chair of the MSU History Department; Dr. Marsha MacDowell, Curator, MSU Museum and Professor of Art, Art History, and Design; and Dr. C. Kurt Dewhurst, Director of Arts and Culture, University Outreach & Engagement and Curator, MSU Museum and Prof. of English, visited BORI in September 2017.

During the visit, they conducted research in Goa, India, and Pune, India, and delivered several talks, titled “Matrix, Archives, and the Digital Humanities,” "Digital Humanities, Museums, and Online Presence," and "Digital Humanities Research and Teaching." The primary focus of the visit was discussing new opportunities for the exchange program, and new projects involving BORI and MSU Museum collections and digital humanities methodologies.

Following the visit to India, the MSU Museum hosted two colleagues from BORI in October 2017 for intensive consultations with museum and other MSU faculty, staff, and administrators. The visiting colleagues were Dr. Amruta Natu, Curator and Collection Manager, and Dr. Sudheer Vaishampayan, Head of Technology. Part of the visit included discussing a course of learning experiences pertaining to American museums and archives as part of the exchange program. During the visit the MSU Museum also hosted the annual Taste of India event program with current and prospective donors. The event included food prepared by local community cooks, Indian dance and music presentations by MSU students (under the direction of Dr. Sitara Thobani, MSU Residential College of Arts and Humanities), and short presentations by visiting staff from BORI.

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MSU receives $1.5M Mellon Foundation grant to build extensive database on the historic slave trade

Matrix is excited to announce Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade, a project supported by a $1.47 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project will create an online data hub that will bring together many datasets of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade.

Previously, projects archiving the history of enslaved peoples were separated, and finding information about individuals across the different datasets was an arduous or sometimes impossible task. In response to this, the Enslaved project will make many datasets searchable from a single website, and will allow users to find all data related to a particular individual across many projects. This will present unprecedented opportunities for accessing, searching, and visualizing information about enslaved persons and their stories. Scholars will be able to provide new insights on the historical slave trade based on more information than ever before, and descent communities and the interested public will be able to engage with the lived experiences of enslaved persons through the records of their lives.

The project will take 18 months, and is the first phase of a multi-phase plan. In phase one, MSU and partners will develop a proof-of-concept to show data can be linked across eight well-established online databases, including a collection at MSU’s Matrix.

Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will lead the project along with Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History, and Ethan Watrall, associate director of Matrix and assistant professor of Anthropology. For more information and updates, follow the Enslaved project at: www.enslaved.org