About our new partnership to form the Center for Reconciliation

Posted August 24th, 2015 by
Category: News and Announcements, Outreach, Public History Tags: , , , , ,

Cathedral of St. John in Providence, R.I.Today the New York Times is running an article on our partnership to create a Center for Reconciliation in the Episcopal cathedral in Providence, R.I.

The article, by Katharine Seelye, is headlined “Rhode Island Church Taking Unusual Step to Illuminate Its Slavery Role.” Seelye discusses our plans to offer a museum interpreting slavery and the slave trade in Rhode Island, and the North, with emphasis on the historical complicity of the entire nation, including the Episcopal Church, in the institution of slavery. She also talks about our intent to offer programming and community activities aimed at educating the general public and fostering dialogue, healing, and reconciliation.

The article details how the DeWolf family’s efforts to illuminate their slave-trading past in Rhode Island, including Katrina Browne’s PBS documentary, “Traces of the Trade,” have helped to inspire the Episcopal Diocese to put forward the idea for the Center for Reconciliation.

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The 114th Congress and legislation on slavery, race, and African American history

Posted January 8th, 2015 by
Category: Modern issues, Public History, Repair and reparations Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Now that the 114th Congress has convened the first session of its two-year term, it’s time to take stock of the status of legislation related to slavery, race, and African American history. What happened to legislation which was pending before the 113th Congress, and what new legislation has already been proposed in the new session?

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Hot off the press: our new book, “Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites”

Posted December 30th, 2014 by
Category: News and Announcements, Public History Tags: , , , , , ,

Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)Update: Interpreting Slavery is now back in stock at Amazon.

We’re pleased to announce the release of the Tracing Center’s new book, Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

“This seminal work … will make a significant impact.”

— Rex M. Ellis, Associate Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Interpreting Slavery, edited by Kristin Gallas and James DeWolf Perry, is the most visible product to date of a three-year Tracing Center project to develop and disseminate best practices in slavery interpretation. This project has also included surveys of the field, workshops at historic sites and museums, conference presentations and instructional sessions, as well as additional publications.

The book is a collaboration with seven leading public historians with deep expertise in navigating the interpretation of slavery:

  • Dina A. Bailey, National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Patricia Brooks, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Richard C. Cooper, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
  • Conny Graft, Conny C. Graft Research and Evaluation
  • Linnea Grim, Monticello
  • Katherine D. Kane, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
  • Nicole A. Moore, Museum Educator and Historic Consultant

Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites aims to move the field forward in its collective conversation about the interpretation of slavery—acknowledging criticism of the past and acting in the present to develop an inclusive interpretation of slavery. Presenting the history of slavery in a comprehensive and conscientious manner requires diligence and compassion—for the history itself, for those telling the story, and for those hearing the stories—but it’s a necessary part of our collective narrative about our past, present, and future.
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A museum dedicated to the slave trade in a cathedral in Providence, R.I.

Posted November 17th, 2014 by
Category: Public History Tags: , , , , ,

Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, Providence, R.I.The Tracing Center is excited to be part of a growing movement to transform much of the Episcopal cathedral in Providence, R.I. into a museum on the history of the slave trade and a center for racial reconciliation and healing.

This effort, which recently received the blessing of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, is outlined in an article by Paul Davis in today’s edition of the Providence Journal.

The Cathedral of St. John in Providence is in many ways a fitting location for a public space dedicated to interpreting the history of the slave trade and to addressing the legacies of this history today.
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Developing comprehensive and conscientious interpretation of slavery

Posted September 16th, 2014 by
Category: Public History Tags: ,

Developing Comprehensive and Conscientious Interpretation of Slavery at Historic Sites and MuseumsThis year, Tracing Center staff wrote a “technical leaflet” on interpreting slavery for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

“Developing Comprehensive and Conscientious Interpretation of Slavery at Historic Sites and Museums,” by Kristin L. Gallas and James DeWolf Perry, outlines the strategic guidance and major lessons for interpreting slavery which are featured in our forthcoming book on interpreting slavery, due out by the end of the year from Rowman & Littlefield.

We’re pleased to say that this technical leaflet was included as an insert in the most recent issue of History News, the magazine for AASLH’s membership, and is now available to the general public through the AASLH web site.

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Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act

Posted June 19th, 2013 by
Category: Public History Tags: , , ,

Buffalo Soldiers from the 24th Infantry at Yosemite (1899)On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 520, the “Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act,” which would study ways for the National Park Service to commemorate these black troops and their historic role in the post-Civil War era.

The history of the Buffalo Soldiers

The Buffalo Soldiers were U.S. Army troops who, as the bill puts it, “served in many critical roles in the western United States, including protecting some of the first National Parks” in the Sierra Nevada. Their origins date to 1866, when Congress authorized the creation of all-black Army regiments: the 24th and 25th infantry regiments and the 9th and 10th cavalry regiments. The soldiers who enlisted were primarily southerners leaving behind sharply limited economic opportunities for black citizens in the Jim Crow South. The Buffalo Soldiers performed many duties in the West, including service in the Spanish-American and Indian Wars and patrolling large territories to maintain law and order.

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The assassination of Medgar Evers, 50 years later

Posted June 12th, 2013 by
Category: Public History Tags: , , ,

Medgar EversYesterday, I wrote here on the 50th anniversary of one of the most momentous days in the history of the civil rights movement.

June 11, 1963 was a day of obvious, encouraging progress for the civil rights movement. It was the day when George Wallace was forced to step aside and watch the integration of the University of Alabama by Vivian Malone, James Hood, and the Alabama National Guard. That evening, President John F. Kennedy, released from the obligation to address the crisis in Tuscaloosa, made the last-minute decision to speak to the nation from the Oval Office anyway, announcing in hastily-prepared remarks that the civil rights movement was a moral issue without which the nation could not fulfill its promise of freedom, and promising the hastening of desegregation and the introduction of what would become the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I ended by noting, briefly, that hours after the president finished addressing his radio and television audience, there would be a horrifying event in Jackson, Mississippi. That event, of course, was the assassination of Medgar Evers, the outspoken NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, who was murdered by Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist, in the early morning hours of June 12.

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