Tallying Enslavers and Confederates Depicted at the U.S. Capitol

Posted in the 18th century in the news, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on February 19, 2023

John Trumbull, General George Washington Resigning His Commission, 23 December 1783, installed in the Capitol in 1824, oil on canvas, 12 × 18 feet (Washington, DC: Capitol Rotunda). As noted in The Post article, 19 of the 31 people identified in the painting were enslavers.

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From The Washington Post:

Gillian Brockell, “Art at Capitol Honors 141 Enslavers and 13 Confederates. Who Are They?,” The Washington Post (27 December 2022). The Post examined more than 400 statues, paintings, and other artworks in the U.S. Capitol. This is what we found.

As part of a year-long investigation into Congress’s relationship with slavery, The Washington Post analyzed more than 400 artworks in the U.S. Capitol building, from the Crypt to the ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda, and found that one-third honor enslavers or Confederates. Another six honor possible enslavers—people whose slaveholding status is in dispute. . . .

Just as governments and institutions across the country struggle with the complex and contradictory legacies of celebrated historical figures with troubling racial records, so too does any effort to catalogue the role of the Capitol artworks’ subjects in the institution of slavery. This analysis, for example, includes at least four enslavers—Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, Rufus King, and Bartolomé de las Casas—who voluntarily freed the people they enslaved and publicly disavowed slavery while they were living. Other people, such as Daniel Webster and Samuel Morse, were vocal defenders of slavery but did not themselves enslave people; artworks honoring them are not counted in The Post’s tally. . . .

All 11 states that joined the Confederacy have at least one statue depicting an enslaver or Confederate. But the homages to enslavers are by no means restricted to these states: Except for New Hampshire, all of the original 13 states have statues depicting enslavers or possible enslavers.

Massachusetts, for example, is represented by John Winthrop, who is best known for proclaiming a “shining city on a hill” but who also enslaved at least three Pequot people and, as colonial governor, helped legalize the enslavement of Africans.

Both of New York’s statues honor enslavers. One is Declaration of Independence co-writer Robert R. Livingston, who came from a prominent slave-trading family and personally enslaved 15 people in 1790. He also owned brothels that housed Black women who may have been enslaved. The other is former vice president George Clinton, who served under Jefferson and Madison and enslaved at least eight people in his lifetime. . . .

The full article is available here»

New Book | American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery

Posted in books by Editor on February 19, 2023

From Norton:

Edward Larson, American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765–1795 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2023), 368 pages, ISBN: 978-0393882209, $32.

From a Pulitzer Prize winner, a powerful history that reveals how the twin strands of liberty and slavery were joined in the nation’s founding.

New attention from historians and journalists is raising pointed questions about the founding period: was the American revolution waged to preserve slavery, and was the Constitution a pact with slavery or a landmark in the antislavery movement? Leaders of the founding who called for American liberty are scrutinized for enslaving Black people themselves: George Washington consistently refused to recognize the freedom of those who escaped his Mount Vernon plantation. And we have long needed a history of the founding that fully includes Black Americans in the Revolutionary protests, the war, and the debates over slavery and freedom that followed.

We now have that history in Edward J. Larson’s insightful synthesis of the founding. With slavery thriving in Britain’s Caribbean empire and practiced in all of the American colonies, the independence movement’s calls for liberty proved narrow, though some Black observers and others made their full implications clear. In the war, both sides employed strategies to draw needed support from free and enslaved Blacks, whose responses varied by local conditions. By the time of the Constitutional Convention, a widening sectional divide shaped the fateful compromises over slavery that would prove disastrous in the coming decades. Larson’s narrative delivers poignant moments that deepen our understanding: we witness New York’s tumultuous welcome of Washington as liberator through the eyes of Daniel Payne, a Black man who had escaped enslavement at Mount Vernon two years before. Indeed, throughout Larson’s brilliant history it is the voices of Black Americans that prove the most convincing of all on the urgency of liberty.

Edward J. Larson is the author of many acclaimed works in American history, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning history of the Scopes Trial, Summer for the Gods. He is University Professor of History and Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University, and lives with his family near Los Angeles.


Online Symposium | Design, Description, and Discovery in Cataloging

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on February 19, 2023

From the Hood Museum of Art:

Terms of Art: Design, Description, and Discovery in Cataloging
Online, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, 22–24 February 2023

Institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives have a mission to preserve, interpret, and disseminate cultural heritage. In addition to new acquisitions for their collections, these institutions must also update the tools with which researchers access and study these holdings, objects, and works of art. Increasingly, stakeholders like academics, educators, and the public treat a collection’s digital representation—its metadata records—as an entry point for discovery. Paradoxically, these web-based experiences meant to expose collections to broad audiences often assume users have specialized knowledge of the terms and processes GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) institutions use to describe their own work, making them inaccessible to the majority of visitors. Additionally, variation and evolution of language often outpaces or does not align with public understanding. For example, someone interested in 17th-century Dutch art might not know that the phrase “Dutch Golden Age” has colonialist implications and has been removed from many museums’ internal databases. The search language isn’t wrong, it’s just outmoded.

The Hood Museum of Art and Dartmouth Research Computing have organized a virtual symposium to bring together museums, libraries, and archives to discuss issues of access and ethical vocabularies in cultural heritage. The goal is to develop the debate about how the language we use to describe collections impacts the communities that create and seek out art. The organizers hope to prompt dialogue on the issues curators and researchers face in trying to maintain equitable and anti-racist progress and research. Additionally, this symposium will emphasize the role of technologists who specialize in user-centered design as critical to promoting equity in information systems. In combining subject-matter specialists and user-centered design technologists, we aim to bridge the communication gap between institutions and the publics they serve, allowing each to educate the other about how they describe collections. The symposium is free and open to all. Click here to register.

More information about each session is available here»

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Times are Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)

9.30  Welcome
• Ashley Offill, Associate Curator of Collections, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth
• Elizabeth Rice Mattison, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Academic Programming, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth
• John Bell, Program Director, Data Experiences and Visualizations Studio, Dartmouth
• Meredith Steinfels, Assistant Director, Digital Platforms, Media & Archives, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth

10.00  Reparative Archival Description at Rauner Library
• Caro Langenbucher, Processing Specialist, Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth
• Joshua Shaw, Library Web and Application Developer, Digital Library Technologies Group, Dartmouth
• Richel Cuyler, Cultural Heritage Technical Developer, Dartmouth
Moderator: Peter Carini, Archivist, Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth

11.00  Continuing the Conversation
This informal 30-minute Zoom session is intended to provide a space for attendees to continue the dialogue from the previous session. Participants are encouraged to connect, brainstorm, and ideate. This session will not be recorded.

12.00  The Spectacle of Bodily Difference in Georgian England: A Case Study in Describing Visual and Textual Representations of Bodily Differences in Historic Printed Materials
• Alex Kither, Curator of Printed Heritage Collections, The British Library

12.30  Case Study: Leveraging the Authority of Labels to Align Design with Diverse Audiences
• Kiersten Thamm, Collections Curator, Museum of 21st-Century Design

1.30  Trouble with the Curve: Describing and Cataloguing Ornament
• Elizabeth Saari Browne, Remote Senior Research Cataloguer, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
• Adrienne Childs, Independent Scholar, Art Historian, Curator
• Rachel Jacobs, Remote Senior Research Cataloger, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
• Hazel Wilkinson, Associate Professor, University of Birmingham

2.30  Continuing the Conversation

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9.30  Open Office Hours with Elizabeth Rice Mattison: Cataloguing Complex Heritage and Data

10.00  Alt Text Power Hour
• Amelia Mylvaganam, Curatorial Research Aide, The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
• Melanie Garcia Sympson, Curatorial Associate for Collections Information and Digital Interpretation, The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

11.00  Continuing the Conversation

12.00  Case Study: Tag Along with Adler
• Jessica BrodeFrank, Senior Manager of Digital Management Services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Doctoral Candidate the University of London School of Advanced Studies

12.30  Case Study: Assessing the Application of a Locally-Developed Controlled Vocabulary
• Hannah M. Jones, 2022 LEADING Fellow, Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC
• Mark E. Phillips, Associate Dean for Digital Libraries, University of North Texas Libraries
• Hannah Tarver, Head, Digital Projects Unit, University of North Texas Libraries
• Ana Krahmer, Director, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, University of North Texas Libraries

1.30  Case Study: Casting Terms
• Milena Gallipoli, Head of Research, Museo de la Cárcova and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina

2.00  Case Study: The Office of Art and Archives, US House of Representatives
• Michelle Strizever, Photography and Digital Content Specialist, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Art and Archives
• Mackenzie Miessau, Registrar, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Art and Archives

2.30  Open Office Hours with Brinker Ferguson: 3D Documentation, Archiving, and Dissemination of Cultural Heritage Objects

F R I D A Y ,  2 4  F E B R U A R Y  2 0 2 3

9.00  Designing and Curating East Asia Art in the Digital Age
• Janet Fong, Research Assistant Professor (Curating), Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University
• Harald Kraemer, Curator, University of Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery
• Shuo Sue Hua, Assistant Curator (Postdoc Research Fellow), University of Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery
• Ying Liu, Curator (Director of Digital Archive Department), Zhejiang Art Museum (ZJAM) and Associate Director, Chinese Artists Association Print Art Committee – Zhejiang Province, China
• Zhu Yi, Ph.D. Candidate, Lingnan University

10.00  Continuing the Conversation

10.30  Roundtable and Workshop: Curationist.org
• Sharon Mizota, DEI Metadata Consultant
• Amanda Acosta, Digital Archivist, MHz Foundation
• Christina Stone, Digital Archivist, MHz Foundation
• Ravon Ruffin, Educational Programs Manager, MHz Foundation

11.30  Continuing the Conversation

12.00  Open Office Hours: Media Preservation with John Bell

12.30  Open Office Hours: Student-Led Projects and Initiatives with Ashley Offill

1.30  Terms of Art: Reflection, Dialogue, and Facilitating Change



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