Symposium | The Archaeology of Free African Americans

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on January 23, 2020

Upcoming at BGC:

Revealing Communities: The Archaeology of Free African Americans in the Nineteenth Century
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 7 February 2020

Archaeology students excavating in the area of the Wilson family house, Seneca Village, Central Park, NYC, 2011 (Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History; photograph by Herbert Seignoret).

This symposium will bring together scholars who have worked on nineteenth-century free African American communities. Speakers will discuss how they have approached studying these communities, many of which were bulwarks in the abolition and early civil rights movements and places where residents formed positive social connections both within and across racial lines. Yet, these important communities have been largely left out of mainstream history. Presenters will explain what their research reveals about these communities and will collectively discuss what these communities, in turn, might reveal to us about living in our own divided time. The symposium is free; registration information is available here.


Each talk is scheduled for twenty minutes; each session will conclude with Q&A and discussion.

9.00  Peter N. Miller (Bard Graduate Center), Welcome

9.05  Meredith B. Linn (Bard Graduate Center), Introduction

9.20  First Morning Session
• Michael J. Gall (Richard Grubb and Associates, Inc.), Public and Private: Identity Construction and Free African American Life in Central Delaware, 1770s–1820s
• Christopher N. Matthews (Montclair State University), A Creole Synthesis: Archaeology of the Mixed Heritage Silas Tobias Site in Setauket, New York
• Christopher Lindner (Bard College), Germantown’s Parsonage: Centering Spirituality in a Nineteenth-Century African American Community

10.40  Coffee Break

11.00  Second Morning Session
• Joan H. Geismar (Archaeological Consultant), Skunk Hollow and Weeksville: Comparing Two Nineteenth-Century African American Communities
• Rebecca Yamin (Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc.), The Lives and Times of Josiah and Joshua Eddy, Barbers and AME Church Ministers in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia
• Meredith B. Linn (Bard Graduate Center), Nan A. Rothschild (Barnard College and Columbia University), Diana diZerega Wall (City College and the City University of New York), Seneca Village: New Insights about a Forgotten Nineteenth-Century African American Community

12.20  Response by Whitney Battle-Baptiste (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

12.40  Lunch Break

1.40  First Afternoon Session
• Nedra K. Lee (University of Massachusetts Boston), Hiding in Plain Sight: Critical Race Theory and the Use of Space at the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead, Manchaca, Texas
• Christopher Fennell (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Resilience and Racism in a Nineteenth-Century American Heartland: New Philadelphia and the Vagaries of Prejudice
• Christopher P. Barton (Francis Marion University), ‘Stretching the Soup with a Little Water’: Race, Class, and Improvisation at the Black Community of Timbuctoo, New Jersey

3.00  Coffee Break

3.20  Second Afternoon Session
• Allison McGovern (VHB Engineering, Surveying, Landscape Architecture, and Geology, PC), ‘We Know Who We Are’: The Politics of Heritage and Preservation in East Hampton’s ‘Historically Black’ Communities
• Paul R. Mullins (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), Civility and Citizenship: Narrating Free Black Heritage and Materiality
• Matthew M. Palus (The Ottery Group and the University of Maryland), Cultural Resource Management Perspectives on African American Struggle with Heritage in Metropolitan Washington, DC

4.40  Response by Alexandra Jones (Archaeology in the Community)

5.00  Reception

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back to the BGC page on the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.

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