Visiting Annapolis a few weeks ago, I had a chance to see the nearly completed installation ofFreedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake, a year-long exhibit about the resistance to servitude and slavery in the Chesapeake Bay region from the colonial period to the Civil War. Heather Ersts and Ariane Hofstedt of the Historic Annapolis Foundation graciously provided a personal tour of the exhibit, which is installed in several museums and historic sites around the city. It’s an exhibit worth seeing not only for the content, but also the design, and several items jumped out at me:
1. The exhibit looks at the varied experiences of people through nine persons. Seven of these persons were enslaved Africans, but two are white–a convict servant and an indentured servant–which will surprise most visitors. It complicates the usual narrative that only Africans were held in bondage (of course, being owned as a slave is very different from being incarcerated as a convict) and it’s by encountering the unexpected that people are more likely to learn. The typical exhibit about slavery trots out the same 1850 drawing of the slave ship Brooks, a pair of iron shackles, and perhaps a tag from Charleston. Yes, those are all authentic and true, but the constant repeat of these items renders them Continue reading →
Modern visitors encounter historic visitors in Annapolis, Maryland, a clever way to connect people to the past. In their visitor center on the waterfront, the Historic Annapolis Foundation installed a wall of life-size images of famous and popular celebrities who have visited Annapolis during the past two hundred years. The main label reads:
Who are these people, and why are they here?
You may recognize a few of them, or perhaps all of them.
Each of these people is famous for one reason or another, and each spent time in Annapolis. Some were here in the recent past, while others many years ago. Some passed through the city on a whirlwind tour, and some called Annapolis home.
But what does George Washington have in common with Sarah Jessica Parker? The Marquis de Lafayette with Mark Twain? Amelia Earhart with Michelle Obama?
Their common bond is that each of them could return to Annapolis today and recognize downtown because of Historic Annapolis. Thanks to historic preservation, Annapolitans Continue reading →