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Public History Work: Remembering Slavery in the North

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

In October I was invited to participate in two events that focused on the lived experiences of enslaved folk in the North.

Panel Chair and Guest Program Committee Member, "Changing the Narrative, Challenges & Triumphs of interpreting Enslavement at Historic House Museums," Mid-Atlantic Museums Association Conference--October 11th (2022) in Washington, DC

Thankfully, this event overlapped with my Precolonial African History course at MC. Students were able to attend virtually, since the format was hybrid.

The Northern Slavery Collective (NorSC) is a group of museum professionals and academics dedicated to researching and interpreting the history of enslaved people and the practice of enslavement in the Northern United States. NorSC would like to present a panel titled, “Changing the Narrative, Challenges & Triumphs of Interpreting Enslavement at Historic House Museums,” in which there is representation from New York State, Long Island and New York City. This panel will discuss the challenges that each institution faced in their journey to create a more inclusive narrative and how they have worked creatively to overcome them.


Elizabeth L. Bradley, Ph.D., Vice President, Programs and Engagement, Historic Hudson Valley

Meredith S. Horsford, Executive Director, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

Lavada Nahon, Interpreter of African American History, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

Speaker, at Twenty-second Anniversary of Triumph of the Human Spirit Monument, on October 23rd (2022 ) in New York, New York

My comments focused largely on this framing:

  • In 2000--the same year that Dr. Lorenzo Pace's monument, the Triumph of the Human Spirit, was unveiled an important book about slavery in the north was also published. Joanne Pope Melish's , in her book, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780–1860, asserts that white northerners seemed to have forgotten that slavery ever exited in their states during the immediate years after gradual emancipation.

  • Overview of northern slavery--particularly--Dutch Colonial Slavery in New York

  • Significance of Dr. Pace's monument being one of the world's largest site specific monuments to academy

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