Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a new technological tool that allows for the recreation of textual data into a visual interpretation via a digital mapping program. GIS mapping provides modern day audiences with a different way to physically view how historical places and peoples have changed over time. 

For this project, Dr. Cromwell collected data about women of color who were listed as independent businessowners in the 1855 Charleston City Directory. She then mapped their locations in GIS to provide a graphic dataset of where these women and their businesses where physically located throughout the city. Her GIS map revealed a group of 53 skilled women who participated in various industries throughout Antebellum Charleston.

From well-known pastry chefs to hardworking washerwomen, the existence of these businesswomen challenges older historiographies of a “domestic sphere” and provides a more intersectional interpretation of female entrepreneurship in the Antebellum South.  


About the Speaker:

Alisha Marie Topete Cromwell is an Assistant Professor of History at Albany State University, an HBCU in South Georgia. She specializes in Atlantic World history, with teaching and research interests that focus on capitalism, gender and slavery in the 19th Century. Her current project, Mapping Female Entrepreneurs in the Antebellum American Lowcountry, uses GIS to map textual information from City Directories, Census data, and private papers to visualize how businesswomen operated across class and racial lines in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.


More about the History and Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in the United States lectures and workshops. 

Who can attend?

Open to the public, the campus community, students, postdocs, research scholars, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Registration is required.