Although most people think of 17th-century archaeology when they think of St. Mary’s City, its space contains many more stories from later eras. One is the 19th-century story of slavery and freedom at a large slave plantation. This story is being told on a digital exhibit and blog, All of Us Will Walk Together (www.stmaryscity.org/walktogether), published by MSU Department of Anthropology PhD candidate Terry Peterkin Brock. Support for the project has been generously provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ford Foundation, and the SRI Foundation.
Brock is studying the lives of the slaves and tenant farmers who live at the St. Mary’s Manor Plantation, which stood in what once was the heart of St. Mary’s City. Brock is conducting the research project under the direction of Historic St. Mary’s City’s Director of Research, Henry Miller, who received his PhD from MSU’s Anthropology Program in 1984. His objective is to open a window into lives that have been often neglected in the history of St. Mary’s City, yet were vital to the sustainability of its land and people. Brock traces these African American laborers from the erection of the slave quarters in 1840, through the Civil War, and into the post-slavery era, where they lived and worked as tenant farmers. One building, a duplex quarter, continued to serve as a tenant home until 1950. St. Mary’s City is currently in the process of turning this structure into a physical exhibit through funding from the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust. The digital exhibit and blog will include a discussion of the process.
Visit All of Us Will Walk Together to see the findings of Brock’s research and learn about how researchers use archaeology, history, and preservation to discover the African American past. The website and blog are designed for audience participation: please comment and ask questions on the site, and learn how you can participate by sharing your stories, see if you are a descendant of those who lived on the plantation, or help to preserve the duplex quarter. Follow the project on Twitter at @WalkTogethr10.11.12