Project Reviews

"The Scottsboro Boys" Trials
Created and maintained by Douglas O. Linder

"The Scottsboro Boys" Trials is a page devoted to understanding the famous, racially-charged case involving 9 African American boys accused of raping two white women on a train traveling through Alabama.

The main page presents a picture of the boys and their lawyer in jail above the first paragraph of an account of the trial. Rather than a brief summary of the trial on the main page, the account continues onto another page and is quite long. The bottom of the essay contains a link to another, even longer essay. A detailed essay is quite useful; however, there is not a brief summary and overview of the site's purpose and what it has to offer. The main page also contains a left side navigation bar with 12 links to other pages on the site.

The links to other pages are very useful. The first link provides a chronology or timeline of the events surrounding the trial. Another offers a map of the train and where the supposed incidents occurred. This map is complemented by another map which charts the train's path.

One of the most important and informative pages is labeled "Biographies." It provides information on the boys, their accusers, the witnesses, the judges, the governor, and more. This allows the viewer to learn a great deal about all of the people involved in the trial. The website also contains transcripts of letters written by the boys and others. However, the site designer does not provide the original source where these letters can be found. Another page titled "In Their Own Words" appears equally interesting but, in fact, only contains brief quotes from people involved in the trial. Finally, the website provides viewers with a separate page with numerous pictures, which also lack sources.

While the site offers a great deal of valuable information on this landmark trail, the site design has a few shortcomings in design. First, the left side navigation disappears after you click on one of the links. Similarly, when you enter one of the biographies, the biography subnavigation disappears. However, there is a link back to the list of biographies and the main page. On the topic of biographies, one of the Scottsboro boys, Haywood Patterson, has his own biographical page. While he was certainly an important figure and endured the most trials, the other 8 boys are all grouped together onto a single page. Moreover, when you click on the name of one of the 8 boys, it takes you to the top of the page rather than to the portion of the page dealing with that person.

Also, all of the pages present a different organizational structure and color scheme. The page may be a list of letters on the left side of the page with a black on white color scheme, a list of biographies divided into different tables with a blue on yellow or orange color scheme, or a list of images centered on the page with a peach on black color scheme. There is no sense of uniformity.

Jared Leighton
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Reviewed: Spring 2007