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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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“African American Stories” in Medford, 19 Feb.

Tomorrow evening, the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford will host an illustrated talk by Jennifer Pustz titled “Uncovering African American Stories at Historic New England.”

Historic New England was founded in 1910 as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, and it was about as Yankee an organization as one could imagine. But people of African descent have been part of New England life for nearly four centuries, and they lived and worked at many of the sites Historic New England preserves. The organization has been doing great work expanding beyond its initial scope.

The description of the talk elaborates:
Though too often hidden, the contributions of African Americans, enslaved and free, are important to understanding the history of New England. The story of Prince Sayward of York, Maine, who fought in the American Revolution, and that of Cuff Gardner, a free African American who worked at Rhode Island’s Casey Farm at the turn of the nineteenth century, reveal new aspects of daily life at these sites. These stories are about labor, but also about these individuals’ participation in the fight for freedom and in such uniquely New England traditions as “Negro Elections.”
Pustz is museum historian at Historic New England and author of Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants’ Lives at Historic House Museums. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa.

This talk will begin on Wednesday evening at 7:30. It’s free to Royall House members, $5 for others. There’s on-street parking in that neighborhood of Medford, and the museum is also located on the 96 and 101 bus routes.

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