Johnson on Time, Space, and Memory at Whitney Plantation (Louisiana)

If your summer travels take you to Louisiana, be sure to visit Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana (about forty miles from New Orleans). See below for #ADPhD Founder and Curator Jessica Marie Johnson’s reflection on her visit last February….

Johnson on Time, Space, and Memory at Whitney Plantation

“Each statue represents a person. Most represent one of the thirty odd men and women who experienced slavery in Louisiana as a child and was interviewed by Works Progress Administration investigators in the 1930s as an elder. A handful represent a child who labored at the plantation site at some point in its history, a child with a story we now know.

Each child has a name. They have identities and histories. They are neither nameless nor voiceless, as so many subaltern historical subjects are, particularly in histories of slavery. They have already spoken. The statues and everything they represent also give lie to the presumption that the enslaved left no stories, no words worth mentioning or remembering. Or believing.

By choosing to engage the visitors through a historically African-American church filled with statues of enslaved children, Ibrahima Seck, the Director of Research, does more than memorialize the original interviewees and enslaved members of the Haydel/Whitney Plantation site. Seck and the Whitney staff force us to enter the plantation by walking past, watching, and being watched by enslaved themselves. The figures act as artifacts of and portals into the words and lives of residents of Louisiana who experienced slavery, who engaged Writers’ Project interviewers as experts in their own lives. Confronted with their familiars, we are challenged to take them seriously as the only experts that matter. As intellectuals in their own right and masters of their own words and worlds.

This is the visitor’s introduction to the Whitney Plantation and Slave Museum…”

Read the rest at AAIHS: Time, Space, and Memory at Whitney Plantation


ARTICLE: Hayes on Peter and King, Benjamin Franklin’s Slaves

Kevin J. Hayes. “New Light on Peter and King, the Two Slaves Benjamin Franklin Brought to England.” Notes and Queries (March 27, 2013). 


“WHEN Benjamin Franklin went to London on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly in 1757, his son William accompanied him. In addition, they brought along two slaves. Peter served as personal servant to Benjamin Franklin, and William brought King to serve him in the same capacity. From their arrival in England on 17 July 1757 through their departure in August 1762, Peter remained with Benjamin Franklin. King, on the other hand, ran away from the Franklins. A previously neglected newspaper notice advertising for the apprehension and return of a slave named ‘King’ may significantly alter our understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s relationship to slavery.

Before getting to the text of this advertisement, let’s recall the general story of Peter and King in England, a story beset with a major problem from the outset. By 1750, Benjamin and Deborah Franklin owned a slave couple, Peter and Jemima. In addition, the Franklins had another slave in their household during the 1750s, a ‘Negro Child’, who was inoculated for smallpox in 1756.1 Gary B. Nash theorizes that this child could have been Othello, the male slave who helped Deborah around the house after her husband went to England in 1757…”

Read the rest ($$).