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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley


Recent years have seen a blossoming of publications aimed to support museums and historic sites that are seeking to improve their interpretation of enslavement and African American history more generally.  Many organizations have hosted conferences, symposia, and webinars on this subject (see, for instance, events like the Transatlantic Slavery Symposium: Historic Sites Interpreting Slavery; Cheyney McKnight's Not Your Momma's History; and the work of the Tracing Center), and a wealth of information continues to grow online.   Bibliographies like Max A. van Balgooy's "Selected Bibliography on Interpreting African American History and Culture at Historic Sites and in History Museums" (2014) are useful places to begin.  Below are a handful of key titles that are helpful places to enter these conversations.

Recommended Reading

Araujo, Ana Lucia. Museums and Atlantic Slavery. Routledge, 2021.

Cox, Karen L. No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice. University of North Carolina Press, 2021.

Dagbovie, Pero. Reclaiming the Black Past: The Use and Misuse of African American History in the 21st Century. Penguin, 2018.

Gallas, Kristin L. and James DeWolf Perry, eds., Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.

Horton, James Oliver and Lois F. Horton.  Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory. University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Maskiell, Nicole Saffold, "“Here Lyes the Body of Cicely Negro”: Enslaved Women in Colonial Cambridge and the Making of New England History,"  New England Quarterly, (2022) 95 (2): 115–154.

 “Monuments, Memory, Politics, and Our Publics,” special virtual issue of The Public Historian.

Piper, Emilie and David Levinson. One Minute a Free Woman: Elizabeth Freeman and the Struggle for Freedom. Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area /African American Heritage Trail. Great Barrington: Berkshire Publishing Group LLC, 2010. 

Savoy, Lauret. Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape. Counterpoint Press, 2016.

Seelye, Katharine Q. “Black History Trail Makes 200 Stops Across Massachusetts,” New York Times, (2019). 

Smith, Clint. How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. Little, Brown and Company, 2021.

Mack, Deborah L. and John S. Welch, eds., "The State of Black Museums: Historiography Commemorating The Founding and Existence of Black Museums Over Four Decades," special issue of The Public Historian (August 2018).

van Balgooy, Max, ed. Interpreting African American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites (Volume 3). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.

Webster, Madeline.  "Race, Reuse, and Reform: Preserving the Garrison House, Contesting Garrisonianism in Turn-of-the-Century Boston." The New England Quarterly (2022) 95 (2): 229–276.