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Boston Book Festival

  • Old South Church 645 Boylston Street Boston, MA, 02116 United States (map)

Black History Detectives: Discovering 19th Century Stories Through Documents and Artifacts

Panel with Tera W. Hunter, Edwards Professor of American History and Professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University and author of Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017) and Rayshauna Gray, researcher with Tufts University's history department and Center for the Study of Race & Democracy, Policy Administrative coordinator of Harvard’s Opportunity Insights’ policy team, and author of Roseland (Forthcoming, Belt Publishing).

Panel Description

In this session, we’ll hear from two historians who have used innovative and painstaking research methods to shape their chronicles of African American history. Tera W. Hunter is the 2018 winner of the Museum of African American History (MAAH) Stone Book Award for Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the 19th Century, and Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers is the author of They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, called “a taut and cogent corrective” by Parul Sehgal in the New York Times. Their conversation, moderated by historian Rayshauna Gray, will focus on the authors’ use of documents and artifacts—letters, newspaper advertisements, court records, birth certificates, etc.—as evidence and inspiration for building individual stories that are emblematic of African American history. They will speak to the discovery of particular primary sources that informed their work, and the way that these historical records and archival materials underpinned their research, highlighting themes of discovery, agency, tenacity, family, resilience, marriage, kinship, and the intertwining of slavery and freedom. Sponsored by the Plymouth Rock Foundation and the Jim and Cathy Stone Foundation to honor the MAAH Stone Book Award, this session will resonate with the tactile museum experience, combining the power of artifact and story to make history come alive.

A book signing will immediately follow the panel.