One-day Seminar Documenting Early History of Black Lives In The Valley, June 19


Amherst's Historic Mural prior to demolition. South Wall, Amherst Carriage Shops. Photo: wikimedia commons.

Source: UMass History Department

The Pioneer Valley History Network, the UMass Amherst Public History Program, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Library are pleased to announce a free, one-day virtual seminar launching the community-based research project, Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley, on June 19, 2021 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Register here to join scholars, public historians, and community members for a keynote address by Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst, as well as two panels: “Histories of Enslavement & Freedom: A Conversation with Scholars” and “Documenting Black Lives in the Early Valley: Methods & Models.”

Additional speakers include Joseph Carvalho, III, author and former President and Executive Director of the Springfield Museums; Ian Delahanty, Assistant Professor of History, Springfield College; Gretchen Gerzina, Professor of English at UMass Amherst; Marla Miller, Professor of History and Director of the UMass Amherst Public History Program; Margory O’Toole, Executive Director, Little Compton Historical Society; Dennis Picard, President, Pioneer Valley History Network; Ousmane Power-Greene, Associate Professor of History, Clark University; Erika Slocumb, PhD Candidate, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst; and Emma Winter Zeig, Education and Interpretive Programs Manager, Historic Northampton. 

To view the full schedule, list of speakers, supplemental materials, and additional recommended talks, visit In advance of the panel “Histories of Enslavement & Freedom: A Conversation with Scholars,” attendees are strongly encouraged to view several short pre-recorded lectures, available here, which the speakers will discuss at the event.

This event launches Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley, a community-based research project in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties that aims to document the lives of early free, enslaved, and formerly enslaved Black residents of the Connecticut River Valley. Participating historical organizations, in collaboration with student and community researchers, will perform a “deep dive” into their relevant holdings and present their findings in a fall capstone event. Interested individuals can participate by contacting PVHN ( and describing your interest in this project. 

This project is generously supported by Mass Humanities and the UMass Amherst Public Service Endowment Grant.

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