The American Converts Database

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How You Can Contribute

This project is intended to be highly collaborative, and we encourage you to submit as often and as much as you'd like.  To get started, simply email Erin (erin.bartram@uconn.edu) or Lincoln (lincoln@lincolnmullen.com) to set up an account.  

Once you've done so, you'll be able to enter information into specific forms on the website.  If you have a large number of converts, you will be able to import them in CSV format. Don't worry if you don't have every bit of information about a convert or a conversion experience.  Submit what you have and let the collaborative nature of the project take over!

To add an individual convert or conversion experience:

When you log in at www.americanconverts.org/admin, you'll see a range of options along the left-hand side. Click on “Items,” then on the green “Add an item” button.

First, you'll fill in the Dublin Core items. These are the basic identifiers for the record, but you don't have to fill in all of them.

Title: If you're adding a convert, the title is their name, first name and last name. If you're adding a conversion experience, the title is “Conversion of (first name last name) to (religion).”  

  • Example: "Isaac Thomas Hecker" or "Conversion of Isaac Thomas Hecker to Roman Catholicism."

Subject: This is the Library of Congress authority name for the person whom you are adding. These should be automatically suggested for you as you type into the box. For example, typing "Brownson, O" into the box will suggest "Brownson, Orestes Augustus, 1803-1876." If there are no such suggestions, make up one in the same format.

Contributor: That's you! Put your last name first here. Example: "Doe, Jane"

Next, click “Item Type Metadata” at the top of the screen, and then click the drop down list. You'll see the first two options are “conversion” and “convert.” Selecting either will cause the appropriate form to appear below. Remember, you don't have to have something for every part of the form to enter the convert or the conversion experience.

For converts, you'll see the following fields:

Names: In addition to the name you used to identify the record, this is a place to add any other names by which the convert went. Maiden names and baptismal names are two good uses of this space. Include the spans of time that each name was used, if you know that information.

  • Example: Hecker, Isaac (1819-1845) Hecker, Isaac Thomas (1845-1888) Hecker took the confirmation name Thomas.

Birth/Death Date: Please use year-month-date format.

Birthplace/Place of death: Provide as much information as you can. Please use postal abbreviations for the states.

Sex: Use drop down list.

Ethnicity: Provide the ethnicity or national origin of the person

Race: Provide the race of the person

Legal Status: State whether the person was free, enslaved, or freed

Occupation: Provide as much information as you can.

Religions: In this space, use the drop down list to add all of the religions with which the convert was affiliated. Click on “Add Input” to add further religions. Don't worry about the order of the religions; the “conversion experience” is where you'll show the directionality of the religious changes. There are general religious categories like “Protestantism,” which can be helpful if you're not quite sure of the particular flavor. If you don't see the religion you need, please contact us and we'll make sure to add it.

Biographical Text: If possible, add a brief biographical description of the convert.

Bibliography: Primary and secondary literature for further reading on this convert.

At this point, if you're ready for your contribution to go live, tick the "Publish this page?" box and then click "Save changes." If you'd like to continue working, just click "Save changes," and you can come back to work on it later.

For conversion experiences, you'll see the following fields:

Type of conversion: This differentiates between a conversion between religions and an internal conversion.

Ritual: The type of ritual, if any, that accompanied the conversion.

  • Example: Baptism, circumcision, mikveh

Origin and destination religions: Use the drop down list to choose the religions involved in this conversion.  

Date of conversion: Please use year-month-date format.

Place of conversion: Provide as much information as you can. Please use postal abbreviations for the states.

Description: If possible, write a brief description of the conversion.

Biographical quotation: If possible, include a quotation from a primary source about the convert. Use quotation marks, and describe the source at the end of the quotation.

Bibliography: Primary and secondary literature for further reading on this convert.

At this point, if you're ready for your contribution to go live, tick the "Publish this page?" box and then click "Save changes." If you'd like to continue working, just click "Save changes," and you can come back to work on it later.

To add a text: 

This function is primarily intended to add information about primary sources, like books and pamphlets, produced by converts themselves.  From the dashboard, click on “Items,” then on the green “Add an item” button.

For texts, most of what you'll fill in are Dublin Core items. 

Title: The full title of the text.

Description: Your own description of the source's content and context.

Creator: The author or authors, last name first.

Publisher and date: Only the year is necessary.

Contributor: That's you! Last name first, please.

Format: Examples might be print book, pamphlet, magazine article, or online copy. If an online copy is available, click “Use HTML” to add a link.

Now, click over to "Item Type Metadata," and select "text" from the drop down list.  If you're also ready for your contribution to go live, tick the "Publish this page?" box and then click "Save changes." If you'd like to continue working, just click "Save changes," and you can come back to work on it later.

To import multiple items in a CSV file: 

If you want to add many items, the easiest way is to create a spreadsheet with the data and import it into the database. If you're interested in doing this, please e-mail us. You can prepare the spreadsheet, but we will do the import on our development site first to make sure nothing goes awry.

You can read the general Omeka documentation about the CSV Plugin to learn how to do the import.

There are a few things to keep in mind. Since each person is associated with a convert item and at least one conversion item, you'll need to provide information for both item types. It's probably best to have one row in the spreadsheet that contains columns for all of the fields for both item types. You will import that CSV twice: once mapping the convert item type fields, and the second time mapping the conversion item type fields.

We have prepared a sample spreadsheet as a Google document. Fields with the header "Convert" should be mapped while importing the convert item type; fields with the header "Conversion" should be mapped while importing the conversion item type; fields mapped "Both" should be mapped during both item types. You can make a copy of the spreadsheet and clear out the sample data to add your own. Google Docs will export the spreadsheet as a CSV file for you.

When adding your own data, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions for the various fields.

For some fields, there will be multiple entries. For example, the Convert:Religions field will have multiple religions listed. Within the cell in the spreadsheet, those entries should be separated with the pipe (|) character. For example, a convert's religions might be listed as "Congregationalism|Transcendentalism|Roman Catholicism."