Not reinventing the wheel, Part Deux. With pictures! Friday, Aug 30 2013 

So I have a tentative interview scheduled for the history chair at a local high school which, coincidentally enough, I substitute taught at a few years back.  Well, considering the size of the town maybe it’s not that coincidental.  But either way.  Progress!  I will be interviewing my contact about how the Triangle Trade is incorporated into local curricula, if it is, if state intervention in the curricula led to any changes in how the Triangle Trade is taught, how he might advocate alternative ways of teaching about the Trade, etc.  Fun times.  Hopefully this will inform, at least in part, the museum education part of my dissertation.  In the meantime, a blast from a few weeks past, below the fold. (more…)


Mysterious Authors Wednesday, Aug 14 2013 

The majority of my research into the history of Cheshire has involved a specific book: Ellen Raynor and Emma Petitclerc’s History of the Town of Cheshire.  It’s an interesting book, available online, but to date I have been able to find next to nothing about the authors.


Tracking memories of the triangle trade through Cheshire. Tuesday, Aug 13 2013 

As promised, some other photos from my research into the history of Cheshire, MA.  The threads of research continue to unravel in interesting ways (at least to me) . . .


Slavery in Western MA and New York as container Saturday, Aug 10 2013 

In my last post I discussed projecting slavery in the Northeast onto “undesirable” or “loser” groups by way of containing it.  Or, if you will, in the service of sanitizing the overarching narrative of American history.  During my Masters program at Brandeis I did a lot of research into how slavery in Cambridge (and the overall Boston area) is projected onto loyalists.  Lately I’ve been trying to examine how slavery is contained and where it is projected when we discover that (gasp) patriots either enslaved Africans or were complicit in their enslavement.


A Pilgramage Tuesday, Dec 20 2011 

By the midpoint of my month in Barbados my research had, out of necessity, expanded beyond the scope of one man.  I had originally thought to research the “cult of personality” I figured may have centered around Bussa.  That was not to be the case.  Aside from being more or less equated with the Emancipation Monument and being classified as a “national hero,” average Bajans didn’t seem all that concerned with him.  I wasn’t exactly sure why I thought they might be.  It’s not as though I walk around all day chanting “Thomas Jefferson” in a zombie-like trance.


God’s Little Acre Monday, Aug 2 2010 

I’m skulking through Newport’s Common Ground Cemetery, searching for the slave plots.  Night is beginning to fall in earnest and a light drizzle is blanketing the ground.  As I step in a divet and faceplant I curse myself for leaving my flashlight in my friend’s car (thanks, M, for letting me drive all over the Rhode Island coast).  The rain and the rapidly darkening sky add a certain degree of atmosphere to this whole thing but, having been an avid watcher of both Buffy and the X Files I’m feeling a little bit . . . well . . . bite-able.  Thanks to all the cars slowing down to watch the strange, bearded, damp, and shabby-looking prowler trawl through a cemetery squinting at headstones and snapping pictures I’m also feeling rather ghoulish.


Photos from Newport Friday, Jul 30 2010 

Newport, Rhode Island.  The epitome of a resort community.  Sparkling blue waters, stately and striking mansions, upscale and unaffected residents and tourists wearing their wealth with the ease of old pros.  Behind the scenes, however, lurks the legacy of chattel slavery.  Let’s examine some photos, shall we?


John Brown: Large and Loud Wednesday, Jul 28 2010 

“Now over on your left you can see a reproduction of John Brown’s carriage.  He would use this on longer trips.”  The docent leaned against one of the wheels.  It was a good head taller than he was.  I estimated that I beat its diameter by only an inch or two.  “It is much larger than carriages of its type, partially due to Brown’s obesity in his later years and partially due to his desire to impress.”  John Brown and Isaac Royall, I thought to myself.  Two “nouveau riche” peas in a pod.


Parallel Lives Wednesday, Jun 30 2010 

If there is any concept that has survived the post-structuralism juggernaut within Anthropology it is bipolar opposition.  Claude Levi-Strauss, considered by many to be the primary founding figure of American Anthropology, posited that life — particularly cultural life — consists of trying to bridge the gap between dichotomies.  Good versus evil, body versus mind (or soul), earth versus heaven . . . the list goes on and on.  Similar dichotomies are found within the field itself, frequently reflected in academic jargon: objectivity versus subjectivity, macro versus micro . . . again, the list goes on and on.

Why do I mention dichotomies?  Well, for starters, they can help us explore the subtleties in everyday life.  At the Royall House, for example.  In this way anthropologists can truly become what Peter Segel of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me terms “scholars of the obvious.”


Puttin’ on the Ritz Tuesday, Jun 29 2010 

At the age of 28 a man by the name of Isaac Ryall established a sugar cane plantation in Antigua, in the West Indies.  This was the apex of an adolescence and young adulthood devoted to surpassing his beginnings as the son of a carpenter.  Along the way, he added an “o” to his name in order to alter it to the more patrician “Royall.”

Like others of his ilk Royall’s holdings were worked by slaves and, when he moved his family back to New England in 1732 as Antigua’s economy began failing amidst mass civil unrest, he brought 27 slaves with him.  He purchased “Ten Hills Farm” and built up what had been a modest farmhouse into an elegant, three-story Georgian mansion with a finished attic.  It was massive for its time.


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