For the Abolitionist Network, I filtered our metadata on the Bigelow papers to only show letters sent to John Bigelow (1817). There are two reasons for this: 1. There is no recorded or written evidence of John Bigelow being an abolitionist himself (besides his notable association with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War), therefore, I made an educated guess based on this information that John Bigelow was most likely receiving letters to assist with abolitionist efforts rather than him reaching out for assistance with his own efforts. The motivation behind this Abolitionist Network is to discover a potential closer connection between Bigelow and the Abolition movement. 2. There are over twenty-two thousand recorded letters in the John Bigelow papers metadata; I wanted to take an isolated sample of the metadata and pull out the most notable names. I searched through the first one thousand names in my filtered list and discovered fourteen notable abolitionists corresponding with John Bigelow. Abolition was a controversial stance in the nineteenth century and I am sure that with more research a discovery of hidden abolitionists and connections can be found in the metadata. This Abolitionist Network is a small piece of a much larger future project.
I used JSTOR to search each name in the filtered list; this way I could be certain of essays, speeches, and other projects relating to abolition under the names in the network. I was primarily searching for known abolitonists who publicly took an anti-slavery stance in their written work. Lastly, I created a new spreadsheet of the fourteen names and used Vistorian to create a virtual social network map of the Abolitionist Network.
After creating the network map, I researched each abolitionist individually to create a small biographical profile on them and their work in the movement to further explore the possibility of John Bigelow being a part of the movement rather than just a friend to many abolitionists.
I plan to expand this project in the future by transcribing some of the letters between John Bigelow and these abolitionists and search for information that may allude to Bigelow himself being an abolitionist, and perhaps even assisting in abolitionist efforts such as the Underground Railroad, or publishing anti-slavery work under a sobriquet like his network associate, Charles F. Briggs (see Abolitionist Network profiles). The Abolitionist Network is the beginning of a potentially deeper discovery of secret work, political stances, and relationships regarding James Bigelow.