DENTON, Texas (UNT) The Freedman Town 2.0 app went from a University of North Texas Department of Media Arts class project to an exhibition held in early 2018 at UNT on the Square.
The app, created by students in Carla LynDale Carter-Bishop's media arts class during the summer of 2017, explores the area of Denton that began in 1875 as Freedman Town, the first settlement of freed slaves, and was later called the community of Quakertown. Quakertown thrived from the 1880s until the city removed it in the 1920s. Many Quakertown residents relocated to southeast Denton.
The exhibition included large photographs of these communities that were brought to life using an augmented reality (AR) application. When a user held a mobile device up to a photograph, a video popped up that told the history of that particular image.
The exhibition will also included photographs from UNT Libraries, Emily Fowler Library, and the Courthouse on the Square library, as well as from Dentonites and the MLK Jr. Rec Center. Some of the audio came from UNT's Oral History Program run by history professor Todd Moye.
The project began during Carter-Bishop's summer 2017 class, but students from her special problems class in the fall semester enhanced it with additional interviews.
She said she's proud of how her students and users have learned more about the area's history. Students had to go out into the community to get the interviews, visiting the American Legion Hall Senior Center and attending churches.
The app also made it accessible for all ages. Carter noticed film festivals often draw older audiences, so she used the app to create something bite-sized and accessible for younger audiences. She said children at the MLK Jr. Rec Center loved using the app during a digital scavenger hunts in the community to find information.
Carter has done similar projects over the years in other black communities.
"A lot of times their stories go unwritten and not told by the people who were there," she said. "The biggest thing I want for people in the southeast Denton community is to see images of themselves hanging on the walls and feel inspired. I want them to feel that pride and celebrate it."