Launch Event

The Launch

On Juneteenth, 2021, the project’s launch event featured panel discussions with historians whose research works to recover histories of enslavement and freedom the the Valley. A keynote address from Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst, underscored the urgency of understanding and interpreting these stories in our local communities.


Histories of Enslavement & Freedom: A Conversation with Scholars

A deep dive into histories of Black life in New England and western Massachusetts prior to 1900 with leading scholars in the field, Ian Delahanty, Gretchen Gerzina and Ousmane Power-Greene. In preparation for this event, audience members were encouraged to view the short online talks linked below. During the session fielded questions from Dennis Picard, President, Pioneer Valley History Network and engaged in dialog with each other and with community members about these critical histories. The event was opened with a welcome from Picard.



Documenting Black Lives in the Early Valley: Methods & Models

In this session, four seasoned researchers with experience in the archival work of recovering histories of enslavement and freedom share their experiences, tips, methods, and insights.  Each will made brief presentations, with discussion to follow.


The House on Egremont Plain: The Story of the Black Burghardts

Keynote Address by Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste

Whitney Battle-Baptiste is Professor of Anthropology & Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on the connections of race, gender, class, and sexuality, during slavery and post-emancipation, and has included interpretation of the W.E.B Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and two books, Black Feminist Archaeology (2011), and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, co-edited with Britt Russert (2019). This event was moderated by UMass Amherst history librarian Kate Freedman with a closing by Professor Marla Miller of the UMass Amherst History Department.

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