Interpreting Slave Life

Slavery: Let's talk about it

The Problem With “It sounds better…”

| July 14, 2013

“It sounds better coming from an African American.” I keep hearing this statement in reference to who should tell visitors the story of slavery at sites that do not do first person interpretation. Let me tell you why I find it troubling. First and foremost, just because someone is black, it does not mean they […]


| January 1, 2013

The last post of 2012 is a simple one. The text of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s on display at the National Archives tomorrow. A Transcription By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, […]

“All of Us Would Walk Together”

| November 5, 2012

I have had just about the best experience working with the sites in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Most of my work has been with Historic St. Mary’s City, but what I have done absolutely pales in comparison to what my new buddy Terry Brock has been doing. Terry is bringing the story of enslaved and […]

Honoring those of the Middle Passage

| November 5, 2012

  I have always been impressed with Historic Sotterley’s narrative of enslaved life. They don’t shy away from it and you know for me that’s essential. When I toured the site back in March, I stood at the back (front) of the house and looked out at the river. I was told by Jeanne Pirtle […]

Discovering the Dark Side of Jefferson

| October 18, 2012

Hopefully by now, many of you have read this excerpt from Henry Wiencek from his upcoming book,¬†Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.¬† If you haven’t, you need to read it and let all of that goodness sink in. Basically, Mr. Wiencek has discovered […]

Thoughts on the Emancipation Proclamation

| September 28, 2012

On Sept 22nd, many commemorated the 150th anniversary of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. My twitter buddy @SlaveryDatabase¬†participated in an event that celebrated the crossing of the Rappahannock River. In 1862, slaves crossed this river in Virgnia in an act of self emancipation. The images by Timothy O’Sullivan capture refugees crossing at Tinpot Ford and they […]

Eugene Genovese

| September 28, 2012

This week we lost a giant. Eugene Genovese died on Sept 26 after a long illness. I don’t have any long and amazing stories to share about him, but what I do know is that his works on slavery have helped shaped the historian that I have become. A staple in my library is his […]

For Teachers pt 2

| September 5, 2012

Okay I’m back at it. Teachers, and really anybody else looking for more resources, I’ve started a page dedicated to books, websites, suggested readings, whatever…for you to utilize. A lot of the websites have teaching guides to really simplify your search. Look at the bar above, click on the resources link and enjoy! Now for […]

For Teachers pt 1

| September 3, 2012

It’s that time of year when schools starts again (although I know a lot of schools are already in session) which means that there will be lessons on slavery and the occasional field trip or two to a historic site. But for the past few years, I have noticed a growing amount of news reports […]

Cross Post from Interpretive Challenges

| July 19, 2012

Every now and then I cross post when something really strikes my eye. My homie in historical goodness Emmanuel Dabney with the National Parks Service also blogs about our challenges to tell the story of slavery and enslaved African Americans. Yesterday he wrote this insightful post about interpreting slave owners and what I like to […]


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