Preloader
tel: +1 415.843.1859

Monroe & Florence Work Today

Our inaugural project

Our first project rediscovers the meticulous record-keeping of Monroe Work and his wife Florence. It is the most thorough map of the reign of lynching in the USA from 1848–1964.

Monroe & Florence Work Today specifically focuses on people of color murdered by lynching under a pretext of white supremacy. One of our studio’s primary goals was to create a comprehensive resource that is accessible to everyone. The website contains a narrative overview, an interactive timeline, and a map linked to a bibliography of over 74 scholarly sources. Unlike most academic studies, the project does not compartmentalize by region (such as the South or Far West). Rather, it is the first exhibit on the internet to connect scholarship about African Americans, Native Peoples, Mexicans, Sicilians, and Chinese immigrants together across the entire United States.

Design strategy

Although this is a gut-wrenching, dark chapter of American history, this project zeroes in on the heroes. It is intentionally directed at a high-school audience.

We designed Monroe & Florence Work Today to be clear & short enough to add as a homework assignment in any lesson plan for the Jim Crow era. We repackaged the textbook: what might have been one paragraph in passing is expanded to the stories of nine heroes who were young once, too.

four screenshots of the Monroe Work Today project: showing (1) Ida B Well, (2) a Chinese shopkeeper, (3) a Discussion page, and (4) a portrait of Monroe Work

A second design principle was to integrate access to certain primary sources. Readers can examine images of original documents, and read them for themselves. The project makes real the relevance of local history to larger patterns of American racism.

a scanned excerpt from an 1872 newspaper, with a transcription beneath it that reads: THE MEXICAN QUESTION. Anarchy and bloodshed are the only fruits of Mexican attempts at self government. Bad Mexicans never tire of cutting throats, and we are sorry to be compelled to say that good Mexicans are rather scarce; yet there are some of this kind, and the southern portion of this Territory is now darkened and threatened by gruff-looking greasers from Sonora...

Scope

Self-funded, self-directed, and produced by the studio:

  • 6 years of historical research
  • data de-duplication
  • cartography
  • data visualization
  • image editing and re-touching
  • copywriting
  • website design
  • fully bilingual! English-Spanish

Result

In three years, the exhibit
has been viewed over

218,000 times

The site was honored with a 2017 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

logo for the AASLH's Merit awards

Monroe & Florence Work Today paints a picture that resonates its own significance. The picture tells a story, fosters a new understanding – and cannot be forgotten.

two screenshots of the Monroe Work Today project: (left) a portrait of a young Mr. Work, (right) a map showing hundreds of orange markers across South Carolina

Explore the project for yourself»
En español»