Conservator Helps Salvage Haiti’s Cultural Material

“ANNAPOLIS, Md. AP — It is slow, deliberate, frustrating, yet fulfilling work trying to preserve a peoples culture.Vicki Lee, senior conservator at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, already has made two trips with teams of experts trying to mend Haitis cultural heritage following the devastating January earthquake, and is itching to return.

“It’s so sad,” she said in an interview at her office off Rowe Boulevard after returning from the stricken island nation about two weeks ago. “There is so much work to do. We need thousands more people to do it.”

On the other hand, the Chesapeake Beach resident and her colleagues — who have made trips to Haiti under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute for Conservation‘s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) — see cause for hope.

“I think the chances for recovery are quite good, but it will take a lot of time,” said Hugh Shockey, an object conservator at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum who worked on the same team as Lee.

“To be quite honest, what gives me the most amount of hope is that the Haitians were recovering materials from the rubble rather than just throwing them out,” Mr. Shockey said. “They saved what they could. If I am going to put the pieces back together, I have to have the pieces.”

He said it is evident the Haitian people clearly value their cultural material.

“It could have all been scooped up by a bulldozer and sent on a truck to be dumped,” Mr. Shockey said….”

Read the rest at the  Washington Times.

McGill Tours Slave Cabins to Preserve History –

“Joseph McGill spent Saturday night in a place where slaves slept – in a cabin at Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown.

As a preservationist, his intent is to bring attention to the endangered structures.

“African-Americans have lost a lot of the buildings that can help interpret their stories,” McGill said. “This is a great place to start in helping to save those buildings.”

He also plans to use his tour in the coming months to speak about the realities that led to the Civil War. He has already had sleepovers at four other slave cabins throughout the state, with another planned for next month on Morris Street in Anderson, “the largest slave alley left in Upstate South Carolina.”

“This is important now because we are about to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War,” said McGill, a program officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “I plan to develop a lecture about my experience in the cabins and hopefully convince some of the naysayers that slavery played a vital role in the cause of the Civil War…”

Read the rest at

Auslander on Slavery and the University

Abstract:  Diverse college and university campuses with origins before Emancipation embody a potent paradox. Architecturally and spatially, they present tangible models of idealized utopian spaces, earthly apparitions of the promise of Heaven. Yet these utopian imagined communities rest, at times uneasily, upon under-acknowledged histories of violent coercion, in the form of slavery and slave trades. This essay explores slippages and fissures in the landscape of memory on the university campus and its environs, with particular attention to the town of Oxford, Georgia, the birthplace of Emory University. Memorial spaces associated with institutions of higher learning are sites of potent ideological contestation. At one level, college-related cemeteries may present seemingly coherent narratives of regularized order within an established racial hierarchy. Yet such cemeteries and related memorial practices may also trigger critical modes of consciousness, catalyzing poignant challenges to the established order of things.

Read the rest at Southern Spaces.

House Panel Backs Bill to Place Douglass, L’Enfant in Statuary Hall (WaPo)

“The House Administration Committee voted along party lines for a measure that calls for placing statues of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and architect Pierre L’Enfant in Statuary Hall, just as the 50 states have two statues apiece in the halls of the Capitol. The Douglass and L’Enfant statues have been sitting at One Judiciary Square, awaiting permission to move into the legislative branch….”

Read the rest

New Orleans African American Museum, Blacks in Wax Receive IMLS Museum Grants

From Press Release:

Washington, DC-The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today awarded $1,485,000 to 14 organizations committed to preserving and
sharing the history of African American life from the period of slavery
to the present day as part of the Museum Grants for African American
History and Culture (AAHC) program.

“With these grants, museums dedicated to the African American experience
will be able to preserve their collections, train their staff, and reach
out to their communities,” said Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel. “IMLS
is proud to support these institutions as they work to protect our
shared American history.”

Over the past four years, AAHC grants have helped African American
museums and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) build
capacity by supporting professional training, technical assistance,
internships, and expert consultations. The grant program is authorized
by the National Museum of African American History and Culture Act and
developed in consultation with the Council and Director of the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

This year, awardees have proposed significant projects that will
strengthen the African American museum field, including the following:

* New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture, and History, New
Orleans, LA, will enhance its institutional capacity by recruiting,
hiring, and providing professional development opportunities for a
curator of collections to develop and direct its collections management
program and a museum educator to coordinate and manage educational
programs. The museum’s long-term sustainability will be further
strengthened by a mentorship program with the Birmingham Civil Rights
Institute and the Historic New Orleans Collection.

* Texas Southern University, Houston, TX, will develop a collections
management program for the University Museum that will enhance the
knowledge and skills of current staff members about the process of
digitizing works of art. An experienced archivist will be hired to work
alongside the museum registrar and current archival staff members to
coordinate a program to provide safekeeping, cataloging, indexing, and
storage of the documents and items within the collections.

* The Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore, MD, will strengthen its
school tours program by hiring a director of education to develop a new
interactive school program, which will be aligned with the Maryland
State Standards of Learning. The museum will also hire two part-time
educators to engage in strategic outreach to local schools and other
organizations serving Baltimore’s at-risk youth population.

For more information about this year’s grantees, please go to

The next deadline for the Museum Grants for African American History and
Culture program is January 18, 2011. For more information, please go to

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of
federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that
connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the
national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to
sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and
innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about
the Institute, please visit

Lentz, Springate, Deetz and Swanson on Slavery, Memory and the Material of African-American History

The following articles appear in June 2010 issue of the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter:

Obscuring the Inequalities of Slavery:

Identifying Differential Access to Ceramics at Monticello
by Kari Lentz

The Sexton’s House Has a Ritual Concealment:
Late 19th-Century Negotiations of Double Consciousness
at a Black Family Home in Sussex County, New Jersey
by Megan E. Springate

Diggin’ Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima:
Battling Myth through Archaeology
by Kelley Deetz

The Loss of the Slave Ship
Fly at the Florida Keys in 1789
by Gail Swanson

Read in full here.

WEB: Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal

This site is designed to help researchers and Yale students find primary sources related to slavery, abolition, and resistance within the university’s many libraries and galleries.

Across the top of the website, you will find the chance to view relevant collections in each Yale institution. You can view items across the different institutions by entering a keyword or phrase on the search page. You can also sort items according to a particular period, place, or topic by selecting a category from the tag cloud. Under links, you will find a collection of electronic databases that provide access to digital resources with significant relevant content.

Every archive or research guide has a bias, and this website is no exception. We have chosen only a small sample of collections from a variety of repositories across the Yale campus. We hope that these collections will provide a sense of the breadth and depth of the primary source material available to researchers and students. Some of the collections we have chosen to highlight are available in full online. Others have been digitized in part. Many collections are available only in hard copy or on microfilm and are not represented here.

via About | Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal.

Documentary: For Love of Liberty

“At the center of this multi-faceted initiative is a four-hour, High Definition, two-part documentary television series Executive Produced by Louis Gossett Jr., introduced by Colin Powell and hosted on-camera by Halle Berry. Ten years in the making, the film uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records to document and acknowledge the sacrifices and accomplishments of African-American service men and women since the earliest days of the republic. The story spans the Revolution to the Inauguration of Barack Obama and examines why, despite enormous injustice, these heroic men and women fought so valiantly for freedoms they themselves did not enjoy. The project’s goal is to raise public consciousness and shed light on an extraordinary and relatively unexplored aspect of our nation’s history. The central theme of the initiative, the price of liberty, is relevant to all Americans….”

via For Love of Liberty – Overview.

A Story Like No Other: Louisiana’s African American Heritage Trail

Louisiana’s African American Heritage Trail has expanded and a new website added titled A Story Like No Other.

Excerpt from the website welcome by Mitch Landrieu, lieutenant governor:

“Louisiana is marking the second anniversary of our African American Heritage Trail with its first expansion plus this new website, I announced the news today at St. Augustine Church in New Orleans, one of the original 26 trail sites and the spiritual anchor of the Tremé neighborhood.

If you’re not familiar with it, Tremé is America’s oldest African American neighborhood. It is the place where jazz was born. And it is home to four sites along the trail. Today’s announcement coincides not only with the start of Black History Month but with the beginning of the neighborhood’s bicentennial commemoration. Happy birthday, Tremé!…”

Press video below:

Explore the site here.

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