J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Workshop on New England Slavery and Freedom, 26-27 Mar.

The Center for Reconciliation has announced a two-day workshop on “Interpreting Slavery and Freedom in New England,” to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, on 26-27 March.

The organization says this event is designed to let participants:
  • Explore the history of African and Indigenous/Native American peoples in New England.
  • Be able to distinguish between different forms of forced labor, and how and when they were used.
  • Discuss the history and usage of America’s most important and problematic race-related terminology. This includes how to use these terms appropriately in programs and exhibit labels.
  • Learn about the development of racial ideologies in America and how that impacts the work of front-line interpreters and museums as a whole today.
  • Gain or refine race dialogue strategies with colleagues from around New England.
  • Draft and practice leading a brief tour or program on the racial history of your site. Receive real-time feedback on your draft.
  • Receive immediate feedback on your ideas or current projects from local experts and new colleagues during the unconference.
  • Locate local resources including interpreters, trainers, scholars, and books to help you or your organization progress in your work interpreting the racial history of New England.
The conference program is still in development. The host committee invites proposals for panels and sessions that address these topics:
  • Creating or leading programs on slavery or local racial narratives for kids and teens
  • Exhibiting artifacts related to the slave trade
  • Strategies for partnering with descendants, local communities, neighbors/property owners, other institutions or across racial lines
  • Attracting new audiences
  • Other ways to help museums, historic houses or independent tour guides improve the way they engage New England’s history of slavery and/or Black and Indigenous narratives
The deadline for making a proposal is 20 February. Submit proposals through this site or by email to info@cfrri.org. Panelists will receive half-off admission to the workshop.

There will also be “unconference” sessions in the afternoons. Those are scheduled but informal discussions on such topics as “frustrating visitor comments, problematic objects, confusing terminology, thorny questions, ‘Aha’ moments, big discoveries and fresh research.” A week before the event, registered attendees will be invited by email to propose topics for an unconference session.

The scheduled speakers include:
  • Elon Cook Lee, Program Director and curator for the Center for Reconciliation, a consultant on interpreting slavery and race for historic sites around the country.
  • Joanne Pope Melish, Ph.D., author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860
  • Marjory O’Toole, Managing Director of the Little Compton Historical Society.
  • Maria Madison, Ph.D., Board President and co-founder of the Robbins House in Concord, Massachusetts, and Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis University.
The workshops will take place inside the Cathedral of St. John on North Main Street in Providence. A box lunch option will be available. Additional information about the event, including information on scholarships for people who could not attend otherwise, can be found on the Eventbrite page.

(The picture above shows Elizabeth Freeman, also called “Mumbet,” a crucial figure in the ending of legal slavery in Massachusetts.)

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