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Essay Sample about Website Review On “DIGITAL HARLEM”

Date published: | Lisa Barlow

Posted in: Free Essay Samples
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The website addresses the Harlem Renaissance’s historical issue. The project does not emphasize the black middle class or the African American artists, unlike the early 20th century’s different studies on Harlem.

Instead, it highlights the life of an ordinary African New Yorker to show the black community’s living standards. The Harlem Renaissance period was defined by the political, social, and artistic changes in African Americans’ representations and lives.[1] The new black cultural expressions also exhibited the Midwest and Northeast US urban regions’ movement that impacted the Great Migration. Many black Americans were slaves living in the Southern states up to the end of the civil war. During the Reconstruction Era, the emancipated blacks and freedmen started striving for civic participation, cultural and economic self-determination, and political equality. After regaining power, the Democratic Whites passed White Supremacist laws during the Jim Crow segregation, denying African Americans the freedom to enjoy and exercise their political and civil rights, especially when they were lynched and forced into unpaid labor.[2] The convict laborers experienced severe corporate punishment, overwork, and diseases due to unhealthy working conditions, resulting in high death rates. Besides, many Whites exploited the Africans in the sharecropping position.

The artists’ lives define the Harlem period. Frank Hamilton arrived in Harlem in 1926 after his suspension because of stealing. In Harlem, Hamilton was not awarded membership to the Printers Union based on his race. Hamilton worked as a potter, where he dressed stylishly and entertained young men and women. In July 1928, Hamilton stole three suits of clothes, placing him on probation to pay $500 in damages. Hamilton’s denial to pursue a respectable middle-class life caused a battle with his wife, Alice. Annie Dillard’s life shows domestic service and single motherhood in Harlem. Dillard was a West Indies native who arrived in Harlem in 1918.[3] Domestic service was the main occupation for black women in New York City because white women shunned domestic services for sales and factory jobs. Housework enabled African American women to visit different city places than men who traveled for laboring duties. Dillard also worked in a steam laundry in Lower Manhattan. Her home duties made her look for multiple jobs. In the subsequent months, she struggled working while caring for her daughter to attain independence levels. The website discusses various events shaping the representation of African Americans. For instance, it showed some of the struggles that they encountered towards seeking identity.

This website focuses on the Harlem Renaissance, events, and influential people shaping the black community’s lives. These efforts increased after World War I and the significant cultural and social changes during the early 20th century. Some of the leading factors that caused the Harlem Renaissance included the Great Migration of the black communities and the First World War that established new industrial work for many African Americans.[4] This website helps people to understand Harlem Renaissance history by examining African Americans’ lives.[5] Readers understand the various factors that caused the Renaissance and how the struggle shaped African American communities’ lives. The main theme is that the Renaissance was a significant transformation period for the African American people in the United States.

Intended Audience of the Site

The site’s intended audiences are historians and people generally interested in history and politics. This digital website provides the best means to understand the Harlem Renaissance period and its significance towards shaping the US political, social, and cultural environment. Through this site, historians will understand artists who contributed significantly to the renaissance period and how their works influenced the nation’s changes. For history students, this site is a critical source to appreciate some of the literary elements that shaped and defined African Americans’ actions. They learn about the Renaissance period’s artists, poets, musicians, and their contribution to advocating for Blacks’ rights. They also learn the beginning of the Black rights movements that are still active today. The website reveals that the Black community was aggrieved because of various issues, including limited opportunities and slavery’s discriminatory effects. In response, they shifted Northwards to seek opportunities and better living conditions. Therefore, the website is useful, meaningful, and insightful to history students and those interested in the country’s past. The work contextually examines the Harlem Renaissance through specific actors and artists’ works. It helps the target audience understand the significant changes ushered during this period. Human rights movements are also important users of the website because it provides a rich source of information about these movements’ history by documenting blacks’ struggles during the renaissance period.

Presentation and Organization of the Site

This site is well presented and organized. Users are directed to a page with different links to choose information upon gaining access to the site. The first noticeable thing from the website is its details, indicated on the far left as Digital Harlem Everyday Life 1915-1930. This immediately informs the reader about the website’s focus, meaning that readers can easily choose whether to proceed with the website or not. The website’s organization is commendable. There is a homepage that explains the website’s about and focus. It gives readers context and helps them understand principle issues. In this case, readers realize that instead of focusing on the whole Harlem Renaissance period, the site addresses legal records, archival data, and newspaper information on the daily lives of New Yorkers during the period.

The Maps section helps readers to understand Harlem’s location. Since the website focuses on specific places, people, and events, redirecting links allows users to search what they want to focus on. There are also timelines, which means one cannot search for recent events because the website does not document them. The different publications have also made work so organized and easy to read and understand. Remember, this work bases on using past events in publications and newspapers. It, therefore, makes sense to have these links to publications. The Harlem Renaissance happened in the 1920s, which means including a search page about the 1920s Harlem places the matter into context and makes it relatable. We cannot underestimate the importance of images in reinforcing long-term memory among users. This site is well organized as it incorporates images of significant events during the Harlem period, such as nightlife, churches, and sporting events. By incorporating these important buildings and events in the 1920s, Harlem helps readers understand how to live in the Harlem period and what prompted African Americans’ literary movements.

Ease of Use

The site is simple and straightforward to use. It is easy to navigate and creates an excellent user experience. By clicking on the dashboard links, readers are redirected to some of the critical issues they need to understand. Some links redirect users to the people, places, and events they want to search. Besides, the number of people is limited, including Fuller Long, Annie Dillard, Morgan Thompson, Roger Walker, Perry Brown, and Frank Hamilton. There is no big list of people that would confuse. The numbers have already been trimmed for the readers, and the timeframe has already been set. The site is very interactive, and the blog has helped reinforce the beliefs about the importance of 1920s Harlem and how it impacted African Americans’ lives. The different publications allow readers also to contextualize the information and help to derive meaning from work. After clicking on a name, the individual’s information, contributions, and significance to the Harlem period are explained in detail and with examples. The user experience is excellent, mainly because the site uses a cookies policy that readers must accept. There is not much traffic, which means that users quickly access the website with a single click with a fast internet speed. The security and privacy of users are also guaranteed.

Most Important Lessons from the Website

The website is a rich source of American information. By providing the real pictures and capturing the actual events that happened during the renaissance period, learners know the actual events that took place during the period. I learned a lot of useful information from the website, mostly about 1920s Harlem and its defined African Americans’ lives. This was a period after the First World War, and African Americans were awakened to the opportunities to make meaningful political, economic, and cultural contributions to American society. All these ideas are reinforced herein, and by reading about the lives and contributions of specific people, the context of the Harlem Renaissance becomes more precise and more subtle. This site has helped me to understand the roles of religion in the Harlem Renaissance. Many of the people on the website who contributed to the Harlem Renaissance embodied Christian values. The churches’ unification was an important starting point for dispelling racist actions and policies towards African Americans.[6]

The discourses helped me to understand the different kinds of religious worship in the period of intellectual awakening. I have learned an important lesson about the themes and characteristics of the Harlem period. The main idea I have gathered from the website is the concept of the “New Negro,” who challenged the stereotypes and racism in society using art and music. In effect, they promoted socialist and progressive policies, social and racial integration. Different cultural styles and elements are defined in Harlem. The duality implied that various black American artists conflicted with the conservatives who did not buy into the representation of African American lives. Some of the common themes I have learned from this website include the impacts of the slavery experience and the emerging black folk traditions on the African American identity. The impacts of institutional racism, the confusion surrounding writing and performing for White audiences, and how to portray modern black experiences were major issues evident from this website.


While this website does a good work capturing the Harlem renaissance elements, it does not fully execute this aspect to help readers understand its context. For example, the Harlem Renaissance was defined by the literary movements in art, music, and literature. Instead of only focusing on the artists, it would make sense to specialize in the paintings used as a medium in this period. Besides, I do not find any importance in the maps and location information provided on the website. Harlem is much a black neighborhood, and while it is significant because of its past, this website would have included some other information to help readers relate to the website’s content. The digital website’s story is also insufficient and not enough to foster a deep level understanding of the Harlem Renaissance.

[1] Cohen, Joshua I. “Harlem and Abroad: Notes to an international ‘renaissance’.” Wasafiri 34, no. 3 (2019): 37-48.


[2] Digital Harlem. “Digital Harlem Everyday Life 1915-1930.” Notitle. Last modified 2020.


[3] Shindler, Jack. “Seeing through the Trees: Annie Dillard as Writer-Activist.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 51, no. 2 (2018): 169-182.


[4] Digital Harlem. “Digital Harlem Everyday Life 1915-1930.” Notitle. Last modified 2020.


[5] Jović, Martina. ‘‘The Depiction of African-American Life during the Harlem Renaissance in Jean Toomer’s Cane.’’ Patchwork 4. (2020): 83-94.


[6] Digital Harlem. “Digital Harlem Everyday Life 1915-1930.” Notitle. Last modified 2020.


Essay References

Cohen, Joshua I. “Harlem and Abroad: Notes to an international ‘renaissance.’” Wasafiri, 34, no. 3 (2019): 37-48.

Digital Harlem. “Digital Harlem Everyday Life, 1915-1930.” No title. Last modified 2020.

Jović, Martina. “The Depiction of African-American Life during the Harlem Renaissance in Jean Toomer’s Cane.” Patchwork 4. (2020): 83-94.

Shindler, Jack. “Seeing through the Trees: Annie Dillard as Writer-Activist.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 51, no. 2 (2018): 169-182.