Digital Harlem is an element of the project, Black Metropolis: Harlem, 1915-1930, which was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. Unlike most studies of Harlem in the early twentieth century, this project focuses not on Black artists and the Black middle class, but on the lives of ordinary African New Yorkers. It seeks to capture the range of activities, places, and relationships that made up everyday life, bringing into focus the multiple rhythms that shaped life in Harlem, the repetitive as well as the linear, the daily, weekly and seasonal variations as well as features that characterized the period as a whole. All inquiries about the project should be directed to Stephen Robertson.

The project was extended by a second project supported by the Australian Research Council, Year of the Riot: Harlem, 1935. It examines the riot that exploded in Harlem in 1935, the first example of a new pattern of racial violence that recurred throughout the twentieth century, one centered not on interracial attacks but directed at property and the police, and contained in Black districts. Building on Digital Harlem, we mapped and reconstructed the neighborhood to develop a spatial analysis to understand that violence. Locating the racial violence in everyday life offers a unique view of a year of economic upheaval, and an opportunity to access what changed in the 1930s, and to what extent Harlem became a slum and ghetto. While the data from this project is not yet available in Digital Harlem, we have made some of it available here:


Constrained But Not Contained: Patterns of Everyday Life and the Limits of Segregation in 1920s Harlem,” in The Ghetto in Global History, ed Wendy Goldman and Joe Trotter (Routledge, 2017).

Digital Mapping as a Research Tool: Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930,” American Historical Review 121, 1 (February 2016): 156-166

Harlem in Black and White: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s,” Journal of Urban History  39, 5 (September 2013): 864-880

Disorderly Houses: Residences, Privacy, and the Surveillance of Sexuality in 1920s Harlem,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 21, 3 (September 2012): 443-66

Putting Harlem on the Map,” in Writing History in the Digital Age, ed. Kristen Nawrotzki and Jack Dougherty (University of Michigan Press, 2013) | online (2012)

The Black Eagle of Harlem,” in Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Advent of American Mass Culture, 1890-1930, ed W. Fitzhugh Brundage (University of North Carolina Press, 2011)

Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars (Harvard University Press, 2010).

This Harlem Life: Black Families and Everyday Life in the 1920s and 1930s,”Journal of Social History, 44, 1 (Fall 2010): 97-122

Harlem Undercover: Vice Investigators, Race and Prostitution in the 1920s,”Journal of Urban History 35, 4 (May 2009): 486-504

“The Envelope, Please,” in The Cultural Turn in U.S. History: Pasts, Presents, Futures, eds James W. Cook, Lawrence Glickman, Michael O’Malley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)


Stephen Robertson, “Reimagining Black Urban Space in the 1920s and 1930s: Mapping Places, Events, and Networks with Digital Harlem,” keynote speaker, James A. Rawley Conference in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, March 9, 2018 [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem,” Collections As Data Symposium, Library of Congress, July 25, 2017. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem, Visualization, and Data in the Humanities,” keynote speaker, 9th Annual Bridging the Spectrum Symposium on Scholarship and Practice in Library and Information Science, Catholic University of America, February 3, 2017. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Mapping Legal History: Digital Harlem,” Digital Legal History Workshop, American Society for Legal History Annual Conference, Toronto, October 27, 2016

Stephen Robertson, “Putting Women on the Map: Gender and Everyday Life in 1920s Harlem,” Women’s History in the Digital World Conference, Bryn Mawr College, May 21, 2015

Stephen Robertson, “What Was Life Like in 1920s Harlem?” Sawyer Seminar on The Ghetto: Concept, Conditions, and Connections in Transnational Historical Perspective, from the 11th Century to the Present, Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy, Carnegie Mellon University, April 24, 2015

Stephen Robertson, “Putting Harlem on the Map: Visualizing Everyday Life in a 1920s Neighborhood,” Mapping New York Symposium, Bard Graduate Center, April 25, 2014. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “The Differences Digital Mapping Made: Thinking Spatially about Race and Sexuality in 1920s Harlem,” Richard Shryock Lecture in American History, University of Pennsylvania, April 1, 2014. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Behind the Scenes at Digital Harlem,” presented at Tools-and-Techniques in the Digital Humanities, Digital Humanities Forum, University of Pennsylvania, April 1, 2014.[invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Joining the Crowd: Connecting a Digital History Project to the Web,” Data – Asset – Method Network Workshop – So you think you’re an expert?, University of Nottingham, January 15, 2013.

Stephen Robertson,”Harlem in Black and White: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s,” Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, January 14, 2013. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem: Researching and Mapping Everyday Life in 1920s Harlem,” Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, January 9, 2013. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Mapping Everyday Life: Digital Harlem, 1915-1930,” Digital History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, January 8, 2013. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem,” Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University, December 11, 2013. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “The Challenge of Virtual Cities,” presented at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, April 21, 2012

Stephen Robertson, “Putting the Census in Place,” presented at The 1940 Census: A Public Roundtable Discussion, Digital Humanities Lab, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, April 10, 2012. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Putting Harlem on the Map,” presented at Digital Humanities Australasia 2012: Building, Mapping, Connecting, Canberra, March 30, 2012

Stephen Robertson, “Putting Harlem on the Map,” presented at the Australian Society of Archivists, ACT Branch, Canberra, March 29, 2012. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Lightning Short: Digital Harlem: Race and Place in the 1920s,” presented at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Baltimore, October 22, 2011

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem: Race and Place in the 1920s,” presented at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York City, October 17, 2011. [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars,” presented at the Lehman Center for American History, Columbia University, October 12, 2011. [invited]

Stephen Robertson (Keynote Speaker), “Digital Harlem: Visualizing Everyday Life in a Black Metropolis,” at Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts 2011, University of Nottingham Ningbo, September, 2011 [invited]

Stephen Robertson, “Digital Harlem,” Virtual Cities / Digital Histories Virtual Symposium, December 4, 2010

Shane White, The Clearing House Blues, or “Numbers” in Harlem, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Western Australia, August 25, 2010 [invited]

Shane White, The Black Capital of the World, By Design – ABC Radio National, June 16, 2010 <podcast>

Shane White, Stephen Robertson and Stephen Garton, Harlem – the Black Capital of the World, Sydney Humanities Forum, June 10, 2010 <podcast>

Stephen Robertson, Mapping Everyday Life: Digital Harlem, Expanding Horizons: History, the City and the Web, University of South Australia, May 18, 2010 [invited]

Stephen Robertson, Digital Harlem, Digital Humanities in Practice, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 13, 2010 [invited]

Stephen Robertson, Mapping Everyday Life: Digital Harlem, 1915-1930, Social Science History Association Conference, Long Beach, California, November 14, 2009.

Stephen Robertson, Digital History and Digital Harlem, “Writing American History,” University of Melbourne, June 5, 2009 [invited]

Stephen Robertson, Disorderly Houses? Sexuality in the Apartments of 1920s Harlem, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ Conference, Macquarie University, October 2, 2008

Panel at the 2008 Conference of the Organization of American Historians, New York City, March 29, 2008

  • Stephen Garton, When Black Kings and Queens Ruled in Harlem
  • Stephen Robertson, Mapping Harlem: Everyday Life in a Digital Neighborhood
  • Shane White, Everyday Violence in Harlem

Shane White, The Envelope, Please, Calhoun College, Yale University, New Haven, March 27, 2008.

Shane White, When Black Kings and Queens Ruled in Harlem, The Annenberg Lecture, University of Pennsyvlania, Philadelphia, March 24, 2008.

Shane White The Black Eagle of Harlem, History Department, University of Reading, March 12, 2008.

Shane White, When Black Kings and Queens Ruled in Harlem, American History Seminar Series, Institute for Historical Research at University College London, March 6, 2008.

Stephen Robertson, Digital Harlem: Mapping Everyday Life in the 1920s, Department of History Seminar, University of Sydney, October 22, 2007

Shane White, The Black Eagle of HarlemBeyond Blackface: African Americans and the Advent of American Mass Culture, 1890-1930, University of North Carolina, October 4-5, 2007

Shane White, The Envelope, Please, Australian and New Zealand American Studies Conference, Launceston, July 12, 2006

Stephen Robertson, Watching Harlem, Australian and New Zealand American Studies Conference, Launceston, July 12, 2006

Shane White, The Envelope, Please, Duke University, 2006

Shane White, The Envelope, Please, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2005

Shane White, The Envelope, Please, The State of Cultural History: A Conference in Honour of Lawrence Levine, 2005

Stephen Robertson, Harlem Undercover: Surveillance, Race and Nightlife in the 1920s, Department of History Seminar, University of Sydney, May 31, 2005.

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