Resource | Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on December 17, 2021

Peter Bentzon, Teapot, 1817–29, Philadelphia, silver and wood (Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2010.14). Born in the early 1780s in the West Indies, Peter Bentzon was a free man of color. He apprenticed as a silversmith in Philadelphia and then traveled to St. Croix where he opened his own silver shop. In 1817, Bentzon returned to Philadelphia and continued to work as an independent silversmith.

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Press release (14 December 2021) from The Decorative Arts Trust:

The Decorative Arts Trust is pleased to announce that the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (BCDA) has been named the 2021 recipient of the Prize for Excellence and Innovation.

Founded in 2019, the BCDA brings together scholars, students, museums, and archives professionals and the public to collaborate and spread the story of Black craftspeople. To date, blackcraftspeople.org includes archival information and a searchable map with information about 960 black craftspeople involved in 45 trades in the South.

The BCDA originally began as a project by Dr. Tiffany Momon, inspired by her research into John ‘Quash’ Williams, an enslaved and later free Black master carpenter responsible for the carpentry and joinery work on the c. 1750 Charles Pinckney Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina. Tiffany now serves as the BCDA Founder and Co-Director with Dr. Torren Gatson as BCDA’s Co-Director and Publications and Special Projects Director.

Prize funding will support the BCDA Object Database, which will provide scholarship documenting the ancestry, historical timelines, and narratives of these craftspeople within the context of the larger decorative arts field.

The BCDA Instagram account is available here»

In addition to the BCDA’s award, The Trust was able to provide funding to two other finalists. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will receive a grant to underwrite the stipend of a research fellowship for the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive devoted to seeking objects that represent a broader range of the state’s cultural history. The Historic Albany Foundation will receive a grant to develop a series of workshops with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands as part of the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Van Ostrande-Radliff House.

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The Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation was established in 2019 to recognize scholarly endeavors to advance the public’s appreciation of decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, or landscape design. The Trust is eager to highlight a broad range of projects–by no means restricted to digital database projects–and encourages institutions pursuing innovative initiatives of all types to submit nominations, which are accepted through June 30 annually.

The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters the appreciation and study of the decorative arts through exchanging information through domestic and international programming; collaborating and partnering with museums and preservation organizations; and underwriting internships, research grants, and scholarships for graduate students and young professionals.

New Book | Facing Georgetown’s History

Posted in books by Editor on December 17, 2021

From Georgetown UP:

Adam Rothman and Elsa Barraza Mendoza, eds., with a foreword by Lauret Savoy, Facing Georgetown’s History: A Reader on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation (Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 2021), 368 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1647120962, $30.

A microcosm of the history of American slavery in a collection of the most important primary and secondary readings on slavery at Georgetown University and among the Maryland Jesuits

Georgetown University’s early history, closely tied to that of the Society of Jesus in Maryland, is a microcosm of the history of American slavery: the entrenchment of chattel slavery in the tobacco economy of the Chesapeake in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the contradictions of liberty and slavery at the founding of the United States; the rise of the domestic slave trade to the cotton and sugar kingdoms of the Deep South in the nineteenth century; the political conflict over slavery and its overthrow amid civil war; and slavery’s persistent legacies of racism and inequality. It is also emblematic of the complex entanglement of American higher education and religious institutions with slavery.

Important primary sources drawn from the university’s and the Maryland Jesuits’ archives document Georgetown’s tangled history with slavery, down to the sizes of shoes distributed to enslaved people on the Jesuit plantations that subsidized the school. The volume also includes scholarship on Jesuit slaveholding in Maryland and at Georgetown, news coverage of the university’s relationship with slavery, and reflections from descendants of the people owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits.

These essays, articles, and documents introduce readers to the history of Georgetown’s involvement in slavery and recent efforts to confront this troubling past. Current efforts at recovery, repair, and reconciliation are part of a broader contemporary moment of reckoning with American history and its legacies. This reader traces Georgetown’s “Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative” and the role of universities, which are uniquely situated to conduct that reckoning in a constructive way through research, teaching, and modeling thoughtful, informed discussion.

Adam Rothman is a professor in Georgetown University’s Department of History. He is the author of Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, which was named the Humanities Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and received the American Civil War Museum’s book award. He is also the author of Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South and the coauthor of Major Problems in Atlantic History. He served on Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation in 2015-16, and is currently the principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive. He was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in 2018, where he created the podcast African-American Passages: Black Lives in the 19th Century.

Elsa Barraza Mendoza is a PhD candidate in history at Georgetown University and the assistant curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive. She is a former Fulbright-Garcia Robles fellow. Her research has been supported by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. She is currently writing her dissertation on the history of slavery on Georgetown’s campus.

Lauret Savoy is the David B. Truman Professor of environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, where she explores the marks of history on the land. The author of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, she also descends from people enslaved by Jesuits.


Editors’ Note

Foreword, Lauret Savoy

Introduction, Adam Rothman

Part 1 | History

1  Craig Steven Wilder, War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution
2  Robert Emmet Curran, ‘Splendid Poverty’: Jesuit Slaveholding in Maryland, 1805–38
3  Elsa Barraza Mendoza, Catholic Slave Owners and the Development of Georgetown University’s Slave Hiring System, 1792–1862
4  James O’Toole, Passing: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820–1920

5  Enslaved People Named in a Deed, 1717
6  A Sermon on the Treatment of Slaves, 1749
7  Edward Queen Petitions for Freedom, 1791
8  Isaac Runs Away from Georgetown College, 1814
9  A Jesuit Overseer Calculates the Cost of Slave Labor, 1815
10  Baptism of Sylvester Greenleaf at Newtown, 1819
11  Fr. James Ryder, SJ, Criticizes Abolitionism, 1835
12  The Society of Jesus Sets Conditions on the Sale of the Maryland Slaves, 1836
13  Articles of Agreement between Thomas Mulledy, Henry Johnson, and Jesse Batey, 1838
14  A Jesuit Priest Witnesses Anguish at Newtown, 1838
15  Bill of Sale for Len, 1843
16  A Jesuit Priest Reports on the Fate of the Ex-Jesuit Enslaved Community in Louisiana, 1848
17  Aaron Edmonson, the Last Enslaved Worker at Georgetown, 1859–62
18  Labor Contract at West Oak Plantation, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, 1865
19  Photograph of Frank Campbell, ca. 1900

Part 2 | Memory and Reconciliation

20  Ira Berlin, American Slavery in History and Memory and the Search for Social Justice
21  Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations
22  Alondra Nelson, The Social Life of DNA: Racial Reconciliation and Institutional Morality after the Genome

The Working Group
23  Matthew Quallen, Slavery’s Remnants, Buried and Overlooked
24  Toby Hung, Student Activists Sit in outside DeGioia’s Office
25  Report of the Georgetown University Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, to the President of Georgetown University
26  James Martin, SJ, How Georgetown is Coming to Terms with Slavery in Its Past

The GU272 Descendants
27  Rachel L. Swarns, 272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?
28  Rachel L. Swarns and Sona Patel, ‘A Million Questions’ from Descendants of Slaves Sold to Aid Georgetown
29  Terry L. Jones, Louisiana Families Dig into Their History, Find They Are Descendants of Slaves Sold by Georgetown University
30  Cheryllyn Branche, My Family’s Story in Georgetown’s Slave Past
31  Rick Boyd, Many in Slave Sale Cited by Georgetown Toiled in Southern Maryland

Reconciliation and Reparation
32  Remarks of Sandra Green Thomas at Georgetown University’s Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope
33  Remarks of Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, at Georgetown University’s Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope
34  Terrence McCoy, Her Ancestors Were Georgetown’s Slaves. Now, at Age 63, She’s Enrolled There-as a College Freshman
35  Marc Parry, A New Path to Atonement
36  Jesús A. Rodríguez, This Could Be the First Slavery Reparations Policy in America
37  Javon Price, Changing Perceptions on the GU272 Referendum

Epilogue, Elsa Barraza Mendoza

Further Reading

Emma’s Songbooks: Rediscovered Music for Nelson

Posted in museums, online learning by Editor on December 17, 2021

Songbook once owned by Lady Hamilton, which has a cantata composed by G.G. Ferrari and dedicated to Lord Nelson
(Museum of London, 31.17/2)

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From the Museum of London:

Emma’s Songbooks: Rediscovered Music for Nelson
Online, Museum of London Docklands, recording available 21 December 2021 — 11 January 2022

In partnership with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Museum of London Docklands brings to life songs dedicated to Horatio Nelson’s naval victories, recently rediscovered in Emma Hamilton’s songbooks by Museum of London librarian Lluis Tembleque Terés. Terés kicks off the event with a presentation on his finds and their historical context, after which Christopher Suckling, Head of Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, will give an insight onto the music world at the beginning of the 19th century. Following the talks, performers from the School will play the four rediscovered pieces, along with a number of other relevant scores. Finally, Terés will show items from the Museum collections connected to Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson—all in the immersive surroundings of the Museum of London Docklands.

Please note that this will be a recording of the live event, which took place on December 11. You will have seven days to access the recording from the date you select as part of the ticket purchase process.

Songbook once owned by Emma Hamilton, here shown by Museum of London librarian Lluis Tembleque Terés
(Museum of London, 31.17/2; photo by John Chase)

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From the press release (via Art Daily) . . .

A recording of an old sea song, one of four recently rediscovered pieces of music paying tribute to Nelson, has been released today by the Museum of London. Brought to life by musicians from Guildhall School of Music & Drama, it marks the first performance of the piece in over 200 years. The extraordinary discovery was made last year by Museum of London librarian Lluis Tembleque Teres who discovered it amongst songbooks belonging to Nelson’s lover, the actress and model Emma Hamilton.

It is thought the song was sung after the battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) and transcribed by Nelson after hearing it chanted by his crew. The lyrics have been known about since a letter from Nelson to William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry, was sold at auction in 2013—the only other known reference to the song. The new discovery points to the addition of new music and a chorus by the Duke, a notorious society figure, whose reputation for gambling and horse racing has long overshadowed his musical ability. A personal friend of Emma Hamilton, his authorship of the piece is recorded in Emma’s own hand.

Lluis Tembleque Teres, librarian, Museum of London, said, “The song was written by Nelson’s crew in one of his early victories. It is fascinating how, some four years later and already a national hero, he recovers the lyrics and sends them to the Duke of Queensberry, almost as if showing off his early successes. The Duke then adds music and a chorus, and gifts the manuscript to Emma Hamilton, thus allowing us exactly 220 years later to relive Nelson’s fame while performing it.”

Dr Christopher Suckling, Head of Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, said, “Equally as extraordinary is that a man of the Duke of Queensberry’s position should take the time and take the effort to compose at least two pieces of music in Nelson’s honour. That he should choose to express himself through this least gentlemanly of arts speaks to both his strength of feeling for Nelson and his sensibility towards the Admiral’s relationship with Emma Hamilton.”

The original manuscripts reflect the different manner in which music was experienced at the turn of the nineteenth century, its empty staves typical of a time when music could be played by any combination of available musicians. Amongst the upper classes, the function of domestic music was largely seen as a way to kill time and despite some contemporaries considering social music making to be the embodiment of morality, playing and composing was not held in high regard.

The release follows a special one-off live performance of all four songs at the Museum of London Docklands on 11th December, which will be available to watch in full as an online event starting Tuesday, 21 December 2021.

A free copy of the sea song is available for download here»

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