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

How can researchers uncover local histories of enslavement and freedom? Join scholars, public historians, and community members on June 19th for a one-day virtual symposium exploring pre-1900 Black history in the Connecticut River Valley.

A keynote address from Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, will underscore the urgency of understanding and interpreting these stories in our local communities. Participants will be invited to talk wiht noted historians and researchers who work to recover histories of enslavement and freedom in the Valley.

Register for this free event: 

Learn more about the project and get involved: 

Additional speakers include: Joseph Carvalho, Ian Delahanty (Springfield College), Gretchen Gerzina (UMass Amherst), Marla Miller (UMass Amherst), Marjory O'Toole (Little Compton Historical Society), Dennis Picard (Pioneer Valley History Network), Ousmane Power-Greene (Clark University), Erika Slocumber (UMass Amherst), and Emma Winter Zeig (Historic Northampton).


9:30am: Welcome & Introduction

9:45am: Histories of Enslavement & Freedom: A Conversation with Scholars. [See website for materials to view in advance! 

10:45am: Documenting Black Lives in the Early Valley: Methods & Models 

12:15pm: Keynote Address by Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste 

1pm: Closing Remarks by Marla Miller



This event marks the launch of a larger community-based research project in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties that 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 Railroad Studies, the Forbes Library, the Historical Society of Greenfield, Historic Northampton, the Longmeadow Historical Society, and the Wood Museum of Springfield History. 

Volunteer researchers are welcome! Email

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