communities Chronicling their journey of historical recovery

Researching Black Histories from the Eustis Estate: Notes on Process

By Eleanor Proctor Research Scholar, Historic New England In the fall of 2021, I began a research fellowship at Historic New England’s Study Center in Milton, MA, hoping to find information on those who worked for the Eustis family at their estate there between 1880 and 1930. I expected to see histories of the Irish … Continue reading Researching Black Histories from the Eustis Estate: Notes on Process

A Presidential Pardon

By Bill Grabin Just History: Uncovering an Inclusive Story of the People of the Kennebunk Region On March 20, 1830, the following statement came forth from the White House: “Whereas it has been represented to me that the American Brig Volant … belonging to Adam Stone and Asa Fairfield, citizens of the United States residing … Continue reading A Presidential Pardon

Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Essex County

By Gordon Harris The Fugitive Slave Acts By the time of the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787, many Northern states including Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut had already abolished slavery, but Article 4 of the Constitution included a clause that, “no person held to service or labor” would be released from … Continue reading Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Essex County

The Real Sam Huntington

Any study of the Black Governors in early Connecticut will turn up a mention of “Sam Hun’ton, slave to Governor Samuel Huntington,” all drawn from a single secondary source. Can this claim be substantiated? Pauline Merrick tries to unravel the mystery.

Making Connections and Recovering History

By Scot McFarlane Research Scholar, Historic New England, Northern New England Region Though I recently completed my dissertation on the history of slavery on Texas’ Trinity River, studying and understanding slavery’s history in New England has been a very different experience. As one of four new research scholars at Historic New England, my job is … Continue reading Making Connections and Recovering History

Disposition of the Enslaved in a Salem Household: The Probate of Hannah (Clark) Cabot

By Beth Bower As an antidote to any lingering ignorance of slavery in Essex County and the cruel reality of enslavement and racism in the North, I offer the probate of widow Hannah (Clark) Cabot of Salem, Massachusetts. Proved in 1764, the inventory and disposition of Rose, Peter, and Celia makes clear that these individuals … Continue reading Disposition of the Enslaved in a Salem Household: The Probate of Hannah (Clark) Cabot

How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

Anti-black racism has terrorized African Americans throughout the nation’s history, regardless of where in the country they lived. By Christy Clark-Pujara and Anna-Lisa Cox This article was originally published on the blog for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as the first of a five-part series titled “Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of … Continue reading How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

What Alexander Hamilton’s deep connections to slavery reveal about the need for reparations today

Alexander Hamilton publicly opposed slavery, but research reveals he was also complicit in it. Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Nicole S. Maskiell, University of South Carolina Alexander Hamilton has received a resurgence of interest in recent years on the back of the smash Broadway musical bearing his name. But alongside tales of his role in … Continue reading What Alexander Hamilton’s deep connections to slavery reveal about the need for reparations today

Cicely was young, Black and enslaved – her death during an epidemic in 1714 has lessons that resonate in today’s pandemic

Over 3.2 million people have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. How history memorializes them will reflect those we most value.CC BY-ND Nicole S Maskiell, University of South Carolina What I believe to be the oldest surviving gravestone for a Black person in the Americas memorializes an enslaved teenager named Cicely. Cicely’s … Continue reading Cicely was young, Black and enslaved – her death during an epidemic in 1714 has lessons that resonate in today’s pandemic

Jagged Edges of Progress, Part II

By Elise A. Guyette Originally published at https://rokeby.org/blog/. From 1793 to 1961, Rokeby was home to four generations of Robinsons — a remarkable family of Quakers, farmers, abolitionists, artists, and authors. Today, the Robinson family’s home is a National Historic Landmark, designated for its exceptional Underground Railroad history. Rokeby is among the best-documented Underground Railroad … Continue reading Jagged Edges of Progress, Part II

Building a Better Black Box

By Meadow Dibble What you are looking at is a document chest believed to have belonged to Elijah Cobb (1768–1848), one of New England’s most celebrated sea captains and the founding father of my hometown on Cape Cod. You might even call it a 19th-century black box, since the purpose of this object, like that … Continue reading Building a Better Black Box

Jagged Edges of Progress, Part I

By Elise A. Guyette Originally published at https://rokeby.org/blog/. From 1793 to 1961, Rokeby was home to four generations of Robinsons — a remarkable family of Quakers, farmers, abolitionists, artists, and authors. Today, the Robinson family’s home is a National Historic Landmark, designated for its exceptional Underground Railroad history. Rokeby is among the best-documented Underground Railroad … Continue reading Jagged Edges of Progress, Part I

Slavery and African Americans in early Castine

Castine, Maine is a small coastal town in Hancock County, Maine. Long used seasonally for fishing and trade by Native Americans, the area was first occupied by whites beginning in 1629. Over the course of 200 years, French, English, Dutch and Americans fought over this highly prized and strategically placed deep water port. Permanent settlement … Continue reading Slavery and African Americans in early Castine

Stories from the Black Atlantic World

By Samantha Payne, Ph.D. Candidate at Harvard University, Andrew W. Mellon Short-Term Fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society This article was originally published on the blog for the Massachusetts Historical Society. It appeared on March 24, 2021. Reprinted with the permission of the author. In the past year, the Massachusetts Historical Society highlighted collections that … Continue reading Stories from the Black Atlantic World

Stand In Solidarity Against Racism on Juneteenth!

These words, posted on Facebook, were a call to action for our mostly white community. In response, almost 80 people gathered at Lafayette Park, in Kennebunk, Maine, on a warm spring evening.   In the midst of a pandemic, the crowd included all ages: some who remembered demonstrating for civil rights back in the 1960s and … Continue reading Stand In Solidarity Against Racism on Juneteenth!

“God Never Made a Slave”

Charlie Wilcox ’21 James Mars’s Faith   Gowing up going to Catholic school for nine years and a Jesuit school for three, I learned a lot of history, but it was rarely Black History, and never Black History in my home state state. I’ve found that looking at slavery in this way is enlightening. Throughout all my research the man who had the most profound impact on me was James Mars: particularly how he was able to stay so faithful … Continue reading “God Never Made a Slave”

Mirrors

Brendan Cassamajor ’21 My journey in this class ties into the notion that “everything happens for a reason”. It was not on my schedule when I initially stepped on campus, and it wasn’t until a week in that I finally joined, and I am extremely happy that I did.    I can confidently say that this class … Continue reading Mirrors

Our History

Nicholas Gray ’21 I have never questioned my history. I have a book, two books, one for my mother’s lineage, another for my fathers. I can name most every member of my family, where they lived, what they did, who they were. I understood that having a pre-printed family genealogy was a privilege, but coming … Continue reading Our History

Reel Drop

Over the past academic year, history teacher Rhonan Mokriski and his students at a high school in Salisbury, Ct have been pursuing a project-based learning course in public history focused on uncovering the lives of free and enslaved African American families in northwestern Connecticut. This blog chronicles that journey. By Clarence Nurse ’22 & Conor … Continue reading Reel Drop

First Parish Brewster UU (Mass.) Reparations

#Atlantic Black Box Blog Post #4 Here is the Sunday Service presented by our Reparations Task Force, minus some copyrighted musical selections we are unable to publish. The Reparations Action group of First Parish Brewster UU has developed a definition of reparations as it relates to our congregation. Reparations is a process of reconciliation and … Continue reading First Parish Brewster UU (Mass.) Reparations

The Extraordinary Cesar Women!

The Cesar Women (L to R): Olive Cesar Peters, Nancy Cesar, Nancy Cesar, Mary Cesar Lassiter, and Mathilda Cesar Willams (ca. 1947ish). Over the past academic year, history teacher Rhonan Mokriski and his students at a high school in Salisbury, Ct have been pursuing a project-based learning course in public history focused on uncovering the … Continue reading The Extraordinary Cesar Women!

A Deepening Lesson

(https://images.app.goo.gl/T3xTWF7ajq9xWFio6) Over the past academic year, history teacher Rhonan Mokriski and his students at the Salisbury School have been pursuing a project-based learning course in public history focused on uncovering the lives of free and enslaved African American families in northwestern Connecticut. This blog chronicles that journey. By Caleb May ’21, a senior at salisbury … Continue reading A Deepening Lesson

Agnes, An Enslaved Woman’s Grave on Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, MA

By Lauren McCormack, Executive Director, Marblehead Museum, Marblehead, MA Agnes Russell is one of only three known burials of a Person of Color in Marblehead’s oldest cemetery, Old Burial Hill. Her gravestone has been lost for over 40 years, but now there is a movement afoot to again mark her grave honorably while contextualizing her … Continue reading Agnes, An Enslaved Woman’s Grave on Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, MA

Researching Slavery and Black Life in Early New England: An Introduction

By Jared Ross Hardesty Some of the most common questions I receive after giving a talk about my book or a workshop about slavery in New England concern research. Where do you start? What types of sources are available? How accessible are those sources? In this post, I hope to clarify some of these questions … Continue reading Researching Slavery and Black Life in Early New England: An Introduction

Jenny Slew, slave her sued for her freedom

Freedom for Jenny Slew

Jenny Slew was born about 1719 as the child of a free white woman and a black slave, but lived her life as a free woman until 1762 when she was taken and enslaved by John Whipple Jr. of Ipswich.

How to Bring the Witness Stones Project to Life

This 2020-2021 academic year marks the third year that my students at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford have participated in the Witness Stones Project and it’s been the most inspiring and meaningful work of my teaching career.  It’s also been the most doubt-inducing, time-consuming work as well. Teaching about race, conducting the slow, laborious historical … Continue reading How to Bring the Witness Stones Project to Life

Sighting a Slave Ship: The Logbook of the ship CORINNE, commanded by John K. Stickney in 1853

Entry for December 31, 1854, while off Pernambuco, Brazil: “At 3pm passed a bark steering about S by W afterwards. Exch[ange] colors.  She proved to be a Buenos Ayrean.  She look rather suspicious, had “windsails” fore and aft.  Am inclined to think she was a “slaver.” 10am saw a vessel ahead standing same way, coming … Continue reading Sighting a Slave Ship: The Logbook of the ship CORINNE, commanded by John K. Stickney in 1853

Venture Smith – A Story About a Hero

Over the past academic year, history teacher Rhonan Mokriski and his students at the Salisbury School have been pursuing a project-based learning course in public history focused on uncovering the lives of free and enslaved African American families in northwestern Connecticut. This blog chronicles that journey. By Hurst Thompson ’21, senior at salisbury school The … Continue reading Venture Smith – A Story About a Hero

Captain Taylor and Captain Talbot made history in Portland, Maine

At the South Portland Historical Society, we have a seasonal rhythm that suits us. In the winter, it’s a perfect time for some research and fundraising; each spring, we mount a new exhibit and open our museum; summer and fall are always busy with our museum open every day; and as the holidays approach in … Continue reading Captain Taylor and Captain Talbot made history in Portland, Maine

Cesar Family Project

I signed up for this class to engage in something different. It was a chance to break free from the normal classes I had and an opportunity learn about valuable history that had barely been touched. On the very first meeting our teacher asked us to name 5 famous black people who lived before 1950. … Continue reading Cesar Family Project

Exeter, NH and Evolving Revolutionary History

The Ladd-Gilman House, now a part of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire, once overlooked wharves busy with trade that supported the system of slavery and an enslaved man once lived there. Yet, those stories have remained largely untold. Research is now underway to reassess the museum’s interpretation of the American Revolution toward a more inclusive history that incorporates the experiences of Black and enslaved Americans and their impact on the fight for independence.

Changed by an Assignment

“I beg you to allow me to take pictures of your utmost suffering.” Eiichi Matsumoto, Photographer, Hiroshima By Anne Farrow Almost 20 years ago, I began studying slavery as an assignment. My editor at the Sunday magazine had received a request from the editor in chief, who wanted the magazine to discover and explore the … Continue reading Changed by an Assignment

The Students Speak

As promised, for this blog post, I will let my students speak. I teach sixth grade at a public charter middle school on Cape Cod. I have 84 students in my ELA classes. They cycle through in groups of 14 this year, sitting in beach chairs on the classroom floor as stiff breezes scatter leaves … Continue reading The Students Speak

Confronting Place Ignorance in Education

By Fiona Hopper In January 2020, Starr Kelly, Curator of Education at the Abbe Museum, led a workshop for the social studies vertical team (a group comprised of teachers, parents, and students in Portland, Maine) and partner organizations titled Can We Decolonize Educational Spaces?: A Critical Look at Settler Colonialism and Empire Building. Starr asked … Continue reading Confronting Place Ignorance in Education

Thanksgiving Takeaway

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity on the Thanksgiving front, as we head into the holidays and the first big break for students. From all of the webinars popping up in my inbox offering to help me teach about Pilgrims and Native Americans to the wild turkeys roaming serenely through my … Continue reading Thanksgiving Takeaway

Munjoy Hill’s 19th Century African-American Community

By Kate Burch, Greater Portland Landmarks Portland’s Black Communities have been shaping the city’s history, landscapes, and architecture for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, Portland was a stop on the Underground Railroad and was home to a thriving community of free Black people who worked the waterfront or the commercial railroads. Surviving historic … Continue reading Munjoy Hill’s 19th Century African-American Community

Are You Listening?

This past week, I sent my students outside to listen. With a pandemic shaping the ways teachers work with students this year, I’ve redrawn the curriculum to include an opening unit on nature writing in order to maximize our outdoor time this fall. The act of being outside and engaging with the world using all … Continue reading Are You Listening?

Patience Boston 1711-1735

Whenever I am working on The Prince Project (my database of people of color who were in Maine prior to 1800), I  encounter many heart-wrenching stories. The accounts of abuse and the fights for freedom leave me breathless.  So many preferred to face death rather than to remain enslaved.  Others inspire me with their courage … Continue reading Patience Boston 1711-1735

Re-Thinking Space

As the bobcat rumbled away last week, I admired the transformed hillside next to our school. It had been cleared of the lumpy hillocks and spotted spurge and other pricklier species. We had created a smooth blank canvas, a sandy slope now carved to accommodate the construction of eight cedar beds with wide and mulchy … Continue reading Re-Thinking Space

How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

Anti-black racism has terrorized African Americans throughout the nation’s history, regardless of where in the country they lived. By Christy Clark-Pujara and Anna-Lisa Cox This article was originally published on the blog for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as the first of a five-part series titled “Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of … Continue reading How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

Spencer Hall: He Died in the Guinea Trade

A distant cousin of mine, Conrad Hall, recently published a book about the descendants of our fifth-great-grandparents, A Select History of Mathews County, Virginia: 17th, 18th & 19th Centuries and The Family of Robert and Ann Hall. It’s a very well-compiled and well-written historical documentation, full of evidence surrounding the origin, environment, and events of … Continue reading Spencer Hall: He Died in the Guinea Trade

Where to Begin?

It’s often the question, isn’t it? For historians, of which I am not one, it must be the question that sends reasonable academics down rabbit holes, where subterranean historical societies meet and overstuffed armchairs line up next to roaring fireplaces. As a middle school language arts teacher, I’ve not often traveled to these complex spaces. … Continue reading Where to Begin?

The Cesar Family

As I referenced in an earlier post,  I am piloting a class on slavery in Connecticut/New England. It is going to be entirely project-based learning. My only required text is Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank’s spectacular Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery. At this inflection point, I feel fortunate … Continue reading The Cesar Family

A Public Archaeology: The Archaeology of Malaga Island

Research centered on Malaga Island, in coastal Maine, in order to better understand the regional potential for assessment of the African-American experience in this portion of Casco Bay and Southwestern Maine. Given the shallow soils, dominant softwood forest and irregular rocky topography, much of the Northeast bay held little value for settlement. However, a small … Continue reading A Public Archaeology: The Archaeology of Malaga Island

Not finding what you’re looking for

This summer, all four of Penobscot Marine Museum’s remote interns conducted research related to ships participating in the slave trade or early Maine African American residents. The process tended to be challenging and they didn’t always find what they were looking for. High school intern Audrey described her experience looking for African American residents in … Continue reading Not finding what you’re looking for

Taking a Closer Look in the Collections of the Penobscot Marine Museum

The Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM) in Searsport, Maine holds objects, archives, photographs, and library books related to our mission to preserve, interpret and celebrate the maritime culture of the Penobscot Bay Region and beyond through collections, education and community engagement.  A major subject throughout our collection is Maine’s nineteenth century merchant marine: Maine-built coastal schooners … Continue reading Taking a Closer Look in the Collections of the Penobscot Marine Museum

The Prince Project

Prince.  His name was Prince.  Later in his life, he was often known to some as Prince McLellan, but his last moniker came later. For most of his life, and in death, he was just known as Prince. He had his singular name because he was enslaved.  Just one name.  They didn’t need a last name, … Continue reading The Prince Project