George Mason’s Gunston Hall in Virginia will become a hands-on laboratory to explore how to create a comprehensive and conscientious interpretation of slavery at an historic site at a one-day workshop on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm (right before the AAM annual meeting). You’ll learn how to better connect and extend your site’s interpretation of its history of slavery and help staff and volunteers achieve a greater understanding of difficult knowledge and complicated emotions. Registration is $90 and includes morning refreshments, lunch, and a post-workshop reception. For more details and to register, visit http://bit.ly/SlaveryWorkshop.
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 →