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

Presented by the Pioneer Valley History Network, the UMass Amherst Public History Program, and the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Library, with support from Mass Humanities and the UMass Amherst Public Service Endowment Grant

Welcome to the webpage page for Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley. This community-based research project in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties aims to document the lives of free, enslaved, and formerly enslaved Black residents of the Connecticut River Valley prior to 1900. Participating historical organizations, in collaboration with student and volunteer researchers, will perform a “deep dive” into their relevant holdings and present their findings in a fall capstone event.

Participating organizations include the Amherst Historical Society and Museum, Belchertown Historical Association, the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History and Underground RR Studies, Forbes Library, the Historical Society of Greenfield, Historic Northampton, the Longmeadow Historical Society, and the Wood Museum of Springfield History.

This project launched on Juneteenth 2021 with a major public event, featuring noted scholars of Black history in Western Massachusetts, including a keynote by Whitney Battle-Baptiste.


Photo courtesy of the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield, Massachusetts.