Workshop At-a-Glance

Central questions to be visited, revisited, and explored throughout the week:

What do these sites teach us about the complexities of life for people of color in early New England?

How do we read these sites as multilayered, historical landscapes?

What was the experience of slavery in early New England, and how did it shape the lives of enslaved and free people of color, slave-holding and non-slave-holding whites, and the economy, culture, and society of early New England?

What cultural contributions did free and enslaved people of color make?

What do we learn about evolving ideas about race by examining the lives of particular people of color?

Who owns history?  What steps can we take to identify and incorporate the perspectives and voices of historically disempowered and silenced groups and individuals into our historical narratives and curricula?

How can educators teach difficult or painful history to children?

 Lead Scholar:  Dr. Joanne Pope Melish, author of Disowning Slavery:  Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England 1780-1860

Project Director:  Lynne Manring, Director, Deerfield Teachers’ Center of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

PVMA Workshop Facilities

Throughout the workshop teachers will be using several spaces on the PVMA campus:

Memorial Hall Museum exhibit spaces,  Deerfield Teachers’ Center conference rooms and Blue & White Hall; The Memorial Libraries; Indian House Children’s Museum

Sunday- Overview

Lynne Manring and staff will be on site at noon; staff cell phone numbers will be provided to participants for assistance as needed.

3:00-5:00 pm: Welcome and refreshments

Blue & White Hall, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Arriving participants will have the opportunity to meet project staff and each other while enjoying light refreshments.

Participants arriving before 5:00 might opt to explore the town on their own.  Memorial Hall Museum and Library, Historic Deerfield’s houses, and the Flynt Center remain open until 4:30. Guided tours are offered at the Wells-Thorn, Frary and Ashley houses. The Sheldon and Stebbins houses will be open on a self-guided basis.

5:00-6:15 pm: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in New England:  an Overview

Lead Scholar Joanne Melish, White Church Community Center

Dr. Melish will provide a brief overview of the content of the workshop, introduce the central questions, and facilitate a discussion about them, and participants’ expectations for the workshop.  Questions can be taken throughout Dr. Melish’s lecture.

 6:15-7:15 pm: Dinner, Blue & White Hall

Readings for Monday:

  • Gerzina, Gretchen Holbrook. Mr. and Mrs. Prince. Part 2, Chapters 5 and 6
  • Greene, Lorenzo Johnston. The Negro in Colonial New England, Chapters 8 & 9
  • The “African Americans in Early Rural New England” section of the American Centuries website, especially the “African American Historic Sites Map”
  • Prince, Lucy Terry. “Bar’s Fight”
  • Bly, Antonio. “A Prince among Pretending Free-Men: Runaway Slaves in Colonial New England Revisited,” Massachusetts Historical Review 14 (2012): 87-117
  • Excerpts from A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture [Venture Smith’s slave narrative]

Monday- Growing Up in Slavery

8:30-9:30 am:  “Is this where Titus lived”

Barbara Mathews, Public Historian, Historic Deerfield, Inc.  Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Thirty-eight percent of households on Deerfield’s mile-long village street included slaves by the mid-eighteenth century. Thousands of references in surviving account books , legal documents and church records reveal that people of color, including Deerfield’s most famous African American residents, Lucy and Abijah Prince, frequented the same stores, worshipped at the same meeting house, and were tended by the same physicians as the town’s white inhabitants. This talk explores the ways in which slavery was woven into the social, economic and political life of a rural New England community, and discusses the process by which the town’s slave holding past subsequently receded in community and collective memory.

9:30-9:45: Question & answer period

9:45-10:15 am:  Break

10:15 am-12:00 pm:  Breakout sessions

Participants will divide into four groups to rotate through interactive concurrent sessions.

10:15 am-12:00 pm:  RED and BLUE Groups: Hands-on Activities:  Servant for Life

Lynne Manring & DTC Museum Educators, Indian House Children’s Museum

Guided by museum educators with extensive experience in teaching colonial history and lifeways, as well as curriculum and lesson development, teachers will explore activities that introduce aspects of everyday life for an enslaved child living in a rural New England town.

Offered at the Indian House Children’s Museum, a reproduction of the original 1699 Ensign John Sheldon House, these activities are designed to set the stage and provide jumping-off places for discussion and implementation of institute themes.  Participants will explore in a hands-on manner foodways, clothing, chores, and New England in the Triangular Trade.

10:15-11:00 am: YELLOW Group: A Primary Source Session:  Web of Community

Kitty Lowenthal, Musuem Educator

We will examine archival material from Deerfield which provides rare documentation of rural colonial enslaved African Americans in New England. We will explore fundamental economic and social relationships among the free and enslaved residents of Deerfield as they cross paths on a daily basis, worshiping in the same meetinghouse, shopping in the same stores, and often cared for by the same physician.

GREEN Group: House Tour:  Wells-Thorn House– a Historic Deerfield Master Guide

Lucy Terry Prince lived in this house as a small child, when it and she were owned by Ebenezer Wells. The building is now owned by Historic Deerfield, Inc. Participants will tour relevant sections of the house.

11:15-12:00 pm:  YELLOW and GREEN groups switch

12:00-12:45 pm:  Lunch, Blue & White Hall

1:00-2:45 pm:  Afternoon breakout sessions

GREEN and YELLOW Groups:  Servant for Life

1:00-1:45 pm: RED Group:  Web of Community

BLUE Group:  Wells-Thorn House

2:00-2:45 pm:  RED and BLUE groups switch

2:45-3:15 pm:  Break

3:15-4:45 pm: Getting Started:  Lesson Development and Institute Resources

Lynne Manring & Joanne Melish, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will receive additional information about the lessons to be developed. They will report about topics that interest them and will have the opportunity to work individually or in teams. Project staff will introduce them to primary and secondary sources relevant to workshop themes and offer advice on incorporating the Common Core techniques. Time will be allotted for browsing off-line resources and/or beginning work on lessons.

After 4:45 pm:  Free evening

Area restaurants provide affordable quality meals. Participants are also free to visit the nearby towns of Amherst, Northampton, or Greenfield, all of which have lively arts scenes.

 Readings for Tuesday:

  • Manegold, C.S. Ten Hills Farm: the Forgotten History of Slavery in the North. parts I-III
  • Newell, Margaret. “The Changing Nature of Indian Slavery in New England,” in Reinterpreting New England Indians and the Colonial Experience, ed. Colin G. Calloway and Neal Salisbury (2003)
  • Lin, Rachel Chernos. “The Rhode Island Slave Traders: Butchers, Bakers, and Candlestick Makers,” Slavery and Abolition 23, No. 3 (Dec. 2002), pp. 21-38
  • Richardson, David. “Slavery, Trade, and Economic Growth in Eighteenth-Century New England,” in Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System (1991)
  • Sammons, Mark J. & Valerie Cunningham, Ch. 2 of Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African American Heritage, (2004)
  • Two petitions (1676 and 1700) to the Governor of Massachusetts for and against the keeping of Indian slaves
  • Selected correspondence regarding Indian slavery from the Winthrop Papers (1631-1637), Vol. 3
  • A selection of newspaper items, legal documents, and personal correspondence associated with the Royall family and their slaves, from the digitized “Primary Resources” collection maintained by Royall House


Tuesday- Indian and African Servitude in Its Broader Atlantic Context

 8:30 am-5:00 pm:  Field excursion to the Isaac Royall House & Slave Quarters, Medford, MA, and Sites along the Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth, NH

Lead Scholar Joanne Melish, Project Director Lynne Manring, & Project Coordinator Beth Gilgun

8:30- 10:30 am: travel to the Royall House

The Royalls were the largest Massachusetts slave-holding family in the 18th century. Participants will tour the mansion and the only existing slave quarters in the northern U.S.  Dr. Alexandra Chan will give a presentation about an archaeological dig  she did at the site and what the more than 65,000 pre-Revolutionary artifacts uncovered there reveal about the family life, leisure activities, and craftwork of the enslaved people, and the family who enslaved them. Dr. Melish will give a short lecture during the bus ride placing the two phases of settlement of the site, first by John Winthrop and later by Isaac Royall, in the larger context of English migration to the Americas, the so-called Indian wars, and the triangular trade of rum/slaves/ sugar between New England, the Caribbean, and Africa.

10:30-11:00 am:  Greeting & overview

11:00-11:45 am:  Archaeology presentation by Alexandra Chan

11:45 am- 12:30 pm:  Guided tours of buildings and grounds

12:30-1:30 pm:  Travel to Portsmouth, NH; bag lunches to be enjoyed on the bus

1:30-5:00 pm:  Participants will explore sites along the Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth, NH, including Strawbery Bankes’s Pitt Tavern

5:00-6:30 pm:  dinner in Portsmouth

6:30-9:00 pm:  Travel to Deerfield

 Readings for Wednesday:

  • Whitfield, Harvey Amani. The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810, Vermont Historical Society, Barre, VT (2014)
  • O’Brien, William.  Did the Jennison Case Outlaw Slavery in Massachusetts?” William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 17 No. 2 (April 1960): 219-241
  • 1779 Freedom Petition submitted by slaves to the New Hampshire state legislature, published in the New Hampshire Gazette, July 15, 1780 (Vol. XXIV, No. 1233)

Wednesday- Many Roads to Freedom

 8:30-9:30 am: The End of Slavery in Vermont

Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield, Professor  of History, University of Vermont, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Until recently, most historians argued that Vermont ended slavery in its 1777 constitution. This allegedly marked the beginning of gradual and immediate emancipation in the North and the United States more generally. Newer research shows that slavery lasted into the early nineteenth century. This presentation will explore the stories of Afro-Vermonters who struggled to help end slavery and put the 1777 Vermont Constitution in the context of other New England efforts to end slavery during and after the American Revolution.

9:30-10:00 am:  Question and answer period

10:00-10:30 am:  Break 

10:30-11:30 am:  Breakout session 1

Participants will divide into three groups to rotate through concurrent sessions.

Pre-K-gr. 5: A Primary Source Session: Quash Gomer

Joanne Melish, Room 11, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will piece together life narratives from a collection of primary documents-emancipation and marriage certificate, birth records of his ten children, apprenticeship contracts, records of various brushes with the law, store accounts, etc.- associated with the life of Quash Gomer, a slave from Angola who arrived in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1748.

Gr. 6-8: Petition as Literature

Lynne Manring, Room 14, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will work in small groups to create poems about select petitions written by slaves seeking their freedom. Teachers will use as inspiration a poem by U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Rita Dove. Her poem, “Belinda’s Petition,” is based on the 1783 pettition written by Royall House slave, Belinda Sutton.

Gr. 9-12: House Tour: Ashley House

a Historic Deerfield, Inc. Master Guide

Participants will tour the home of Jenny and Cato Cole, and Titus. They were the slaves of the Reverend Jonathan Ashley.  Jenny, along with her infant son Cato, was purchased by Ashely in 1738 and both continued to serve the household into the 19th century.  Ashley purchased Titus in 1750 and sold him in 1760.

11:30-12:15 pm:  Lunch, Blue & White Hall

12:15-1:15 pm:  Breakout session 2

 Pre-K-gr. 5: Ashley House

Gr. 6-8:  Quash Gomer

Gr. 9-12: Petitions as Literature

1:30-2:30 pm:  Breakout session 3

 Pre-K-gr. 5: Petitions as Literature

Gr. 6-8: Ashley House

Gr. 9-12: Quash Gomer

After 2:30 pm: Free afternoon and evening

Participants may choose how to spend this time. Memorial Hall Museum & Library, Historic Deerfield’s houses, and the Flynt Center remain open until 4:30. Guided tours related to the workshop theme are offered at the Wells-Thorn house. The Frary and Ashley houses also offer guided tours. The Sheldon and Stebbins houses will be open on a self-guided basis. Participants might also opt to spend this time consulting with the PVMA curator or librarian, networking, or developing lessons, or going on self-guided tours of the street with the aid of the “African American Historic Sites Map.” Area restaurants provide affordable quality meals. Participants are also free to visit the nearby towns of Amherst, Northampton or Greenfield, all of which have lively arts scenes.

Readings for Thursday:

  • Hardesty, Jared. “An Angry God in the Hands of Sinners: Enslaved Africans and the Uses of Protestant Christianity in Colonial Boston,” Slavery and Abolition 35, No. 1 (March 2014), pp. 66-83
  • Bailey , Richard A., “From Goddess of Love to Unloved Wife: Naming Slaves and Redeeming Masters in Eighteenth-Century New England,” in Slavery/Anti-Slavery in New England, ed. by Peter Benes, in The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings, 2005.
  • The 1741 Body of Liberties
  • The petition of Belinda for compensation for her former enslavement by Isaac Royall, Jr.
  • Text of the 1781 suit by Elizabeth Freeman in Brom and Bett V. Ashley
  • Cotton Mather, “Rules for the Society of Negroes” (1693) – Broadside.

Thursday- Slavery, Religion, and the Law

8:30-9:30 am: “Race” and the Dilimma of the New England Puritan

Richard A. Bailey, Associate Professor, Canisius College, Department of History, Buffalo, NY, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

John Williams and Jonathan Ashley, two of Deerfield’s 18th century ministers, owned slaves. In this regard, these frontier “divines” were by no means anomalies. In fact, many of their ministerial brothers also participated in the practice of enslaving African Americans. Participants will receive an overview of religious thoughts and beliefs among early 18th century English Protestants and then will examine how a minister, or anyone at the time, might justify the dilemma of owning slaves, treating enslaved men, women, and children as simultaneously person and property.

9:30-10:00 am:  Question and answer period

10:00-10:30 am:  Break

10:30-11:45 am:  Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman

A first-person presentation by Tammy Denease 

Elizabeth Freeman, also known as “Mum Bett”, was a slave in the home of Col. John Ashley in Sheffield, MA.  In 1781 she successfully sued him for her freedom.

11:45 am-12:30 pm:  Lunch, Blue & White Hall

12:30-4:30 pm:  Breakout Sessions

Participants will divide into three smaller groups to rotate through interactive concurrent sessions.

12:30-1:30 pm :  Breakout Session I

Gr. Pre-K-6:  Readers’ Theater: “Keepin’ Still and Mindin’ Things”

Tammy Denease, Room 11, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will use “Readers’ Theater”, a technique requiring acting via one’s voice with minimal to no action or props, to create dialogs from primary source texts about key points in Elizabeth Freeman’s life.

Gr. 7-9:  Primary Source Session: “‘Poor, Poor Julian”: Enslaved Native Americans and a Fellowship of Thieves in “Colonial New England’.”

Professor Thomas Doughton, Room 14, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will explore with Professor Doughton primary sources pertaining to enslaved Native American felons.

Gr. 10-12: Primary Source Session:  Even Ministers Owned Slaves, 1824 Brick Meetinghouse.

Timothy Neumann, PVMA Executive Director and Project Director Lynne Manring

Between 1735 and 1786, ministers at Deerfield’s Fourth Meetinghouse baptized 17 enslaved Africans and the 6 free children of freed slaves Abijah and Lucy Prince; admitted 6 slaves to church membership; and married a slave couple.  Participants will view the interior of Deerfield’s fifth meetinghouse and examine  primary sources about the religious reasons for and against owning slaves.

2:00-3:00 pm:  Breakout Session 2

Gr. Pre-K-6:  “Poor, Poor Julian”

Gr. 7-9:  Even Ministers Owned Slaves

Gr. 10-12:  “Keepin’ Still and Mindin’ Things”

3:30-4:30 pm:  Breakout Session 3

Gr. Pre-K-6:  Even Ministers Owned Slaves

Gr. 7-9:  Keepin’ Still and Mindin’ Things”

Gr. 10-12:  “Poor, Poor Julian”

4:30-5:45 Free time

Participants might opt to spend time consulting with the lead scholar, networking, developing lessons, or going on self-guided tours of the street with the aid of the “African American Historic Sites Map.”

5:45-7:45pm: Dinner & View the film “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North”

Joanne Melish, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Participants will watch the film, “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” that follows a family that discovers its descent from the most notorious American slave trader in history and decides to retrace the route of the triangular trade to attempt to come to terms with their family’s past. After a short break, Dr. Melish will lead a discussion on the film and the questions it raises about how American’s collective history has shaped ideas about race today, what strategies we can use to teach this history effectively, and how that may make a difference in cross-racial understanding.

 Readings for Friday:

  • “Northern Slavery: Still a New (and Unwelcome?) Story,” in Understanding and Teaching American Slavery, eds. Bethany Jay and Lynne Lyerly (2015).
  • Angelou, Maya. excerpts from All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.

Friday- Forward from a Door of No Return

 8:30-11:30 am:  Eshu Bumpus, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Master storyteller Eshu Bumpus will describe his experience visiting a “door of no return” on Gorée Island off Senegal, along Africa’s west coast. He will then share his experiences growing up in this country as an African American male and provide insight into where this has led him today. Eshu will follow his presentation with a writing exercise.

11:30 am-12:15 pm:  Lunch, Blue & White Hall

12:15-1:45 pm: What’s Next?

Joanne Melish, Lynne Manring, Deerfield Teachers’ Center

Teachers will report about the lessons they are creating and the resources and new insights that inspired them. The process for submitting final lessons and receiving CEUs and graduate credits will be reviewed.

Saturday- Optional Opportunities for Exploring the Landmark Site

Participants may opt to find lodging in order to stay an extra day for further exploration of the area on their own. They will each receive a complimentary ticket that will allow them to visit the historic houses owned by Historic Deerfield, Inc., on the main street of Old Deerfield. Free access will also be given to teachers for Saturday at Memorial Hall Museum with optional guided tours by Tim Neumann.