A Red Record documents lynchings in the American South, starting with North Carolina. The title, A Red Record, is drawn from Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work by the same name and is intended, in a small way, to recognize Wells-Barnett’s remarkable courage and commitment to justice. Our research also corroborates Wells-Barnett’s core argument: that lynching was much more than just a response to crime. It was part of a narrative of white supremacy that sought to write out Black success, Black families, and Black personhood.
Started in February of 2015, A Red Record aims to
- identify and mark the locations of lynchings in the former Confederacy, and over time, all the states in the former Confederacy
- provide access to relevant manuscript material about lynching events
- remember the targets of lynching as whole persons with families, jobs, and identities beyond that of victims
- offer users both broad and specific information about lynching for research, teaching, and other uses
- create a space for one facet of an important conversation about race, violence, and power in the United States
This project seeks to address the irony that despite the fact that members of lynch mobs documented their activities deliberately and prolifically, the physical spaces where lynchings took place remain, by and large, unmarked. This project visualizes lynchings in new ways, to the extent possible privileging images of modern sites of historic lynchings over the mob-produced images of bodies that were intended to terrorize African Americans.
Future iterations of the project will seek to engage community partners in diverse styles of documentation; integrate lynching and death penalty data; address the politics of press coverage; and include attempted lynchings, not just those that resulted in a death.
This site used a variety of sources to identify recorded lynchings, including historic sources such as contemporaneous counts by NAACP, Tuskegee Institute, and the Chicago Tribune. Those sources contributed to more recent counts, including Stuart Tolnay and E.M. Beck’s database and Stuart Tolnay’s database, available here. We reconciled these data sets to produce the most comprehensive and accurate database possible. Additional lynchings were added based on newspaper reports or other archival discoveries.
Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch direct this project.
Recent contributors include Gray Van Dyke, Ellie Little, and Morgan Vickers.
Undergraduate student historians include Jennifer Davidowitz, Sarah Dwyer, Dallas Ellis, Jared Feeny, Ava Gruchacz, Robert Haisfield, Jennifer Hausler, Harry Heyworth, Kara Kochek, Daniel Lee, Landon Mays, George Pancio, Ellis Pearson, Sara Pyo, Austin Seamster, Holden Shearin, Courtland Stout, Nik Stylianou, Zachary Sukkasem, Alondra Vargas, Patrick Vickers, Lauren Wagaman, Marianna Baggett, Gabrielle Brown, Anna Conway, Connor Davies, Dylan Farrow, Katelin Franklin, Patrick Hargrove, Georgina Ho, Courtenay James, Joel Janssen, Michael Johnston, Sami Kerker, Christina Kochanski, Mackenzie Kwok, Anna L’hommedieu, Taylor McCarn, Shuler Mehaffey, David Mossman, Kirsten Paulus, Marshall Ranson, John Ronan, Maher Shukr, Anji Sivakumar, Ward Snyder, Alex Taub, Kate Terentieva, Emily West, Basil Williams, Hannah Williams, Maggie Bauer, Laura Blinson, Flare Brown, Elissa Dawson, Ian Dewars, Hattie Ferguson, Lauren Fitzgibbons, Myranda Harris, Chrisana Hughes, Iqra Javed, Eimi Ledford, Molly McConnell, Blake Morgan, Rob Murphy, Namiko Nagata, Jack Palagruto, Jackson Parrish, Corbin Phifer, Nick Polino, Hudson Spangler, Jason Strowbridge, Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme, Morgan Vickers, and Joanna Williams.
Graduate student historians include Kawan Allen, Ina Dixon, Gale Greenlee, Benjamin J. Murphy, Josh Parshall, Susie Penman, and Matt Swiatlowski.
Community historians include Sarah Carrier, Jan Davidson, Dr. Rhonda Jones, Peter Newport, Crystal Regan, Jane Sellars, and Victor Yang.
This project is generously supported by a Humanities for the Public Good Critical Issues Award.