After looking through our secondary and primary sources, our team has decided to create a virtual reality experience of sugar production on the Uncle Sam Plantation, possibly during the 1860s or 1870s. I began research on the sugar making process and learned more in depth information such as how the cut sugarcane was fed into the sugarhouse’s machinery, which ground the cane into liquid. I also reviewed details about the boiling process, which took place in four kettles. I looked for images and photos of the sugarhouse machinery and floor plans. No doubt, the turning of wheels and rollers, the hissing and steam from the boiling process, and the sounds of the machinery grinding the cane will have engaging visual and sensory effects for our GCIEL team to incorporate in the project.
I could not locate building elevation plans specific to what the Uncle Sam Plantation’s sugarhouse actually looked like. However, members of our team were able to find Library of Congress images of other Louisiana plantation sugarhouses from the same time period.
We are still considering how this lack of access to Uncle Sam Plantation’s floor plans will affect the virtual reality experience we are working to create. In our immersive experience of the sugarhouse and all its machinery, should we credit the other plantation and state that our experience is a reproduction of that specific plantation? Or should we take some liberty and say that the reproduction is our best guess of how the Uncle Sam Plantation sugarhouse would have looked?
Author: Sam Nakahira
Sam Nakahira ‘19 is a History major with a concentration in American Studies. She is the team subject-matter expert who researches the sugar plantation and its cultural history. In addition, Sam hopes to incorporate the digital humanities in her own research as a Mellon Mays fellow.