Gardner-Webb Senior Uncovers Interesting Information in Research Project

Dalton Blackmon ’18 Studied Black Economic Life in Atlanta, Ga., After Civil War

Conducting scholarly research is like looking for buried treasure, which is what Gardner-Webb University senior Dalton Blackmon uncovered in his study on black economic life in Atlanta, Ga., during Reconstruction, 1865-1880. “I chose this topic, because I had done previous research on slavery in Atlanta during which I made many surprising discoveries,” shared Blackmon, who is from Canton, Ga. “I wanted to see if what I found in the antebellum times lasted into the Reconstruction era.”

Blackmon was one of 10 GWU students who conducted research during the summer term with a grant from the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The students worked 40 hours a week for five weeks on their projects, which they are required to present in a professional forum. Each one had a faculty mentor or collaborator who worked with them. Blackmon’s mentor was Dr. Joseph Moore, assistant professor of history and chair of the Department of Social Sciences. He met with Moore twice a week to discuss his progress and ask for guidance.

One challenge Blackmon faced was gaining access to the documents he needed. The research center where many of them were stored was closed for a month. Instead, he relied on studying archived newspapers that were accessible online, dissertations related to his topic, and old city directories. He researched and documented living conditions, occupations, business, crime, and government control.

Because of the interesting information he uncovered, Blackmon changed his topic to mapping black businesses in Atlanta during Reconstruction. He recently presented his findings at the GWU Life of the Scholar Multidisciplinary Conference. A history major with a social science minor, he feels this research will help him get into graduate school, where he would like to explore his study further and ultimately, earn a doctorate. “Digital mapping is a major development in the social sciences, so is racial history in the West and Reconstruction,” Blackmon informed. “My work covers all three of these.”

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