February 3, 2022

Salem Maritime publishes a new guide to uncovering Black history in Essex County

by Felicia Cheney

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Salem Maritime National Historic Site is pleased to announce the online publication of African Americans in Essex County, Massachusetts: An Annotated Guide. The guide follows a two-year project, funded by the National Park Service and administered by the Organization of American Historians, to identify resources on Black history in Essex County archives.  

The report identifies a systemic exclusion and marginalization of Black people in archival records. Consequently, lived Black experience remains underrepresented, or sometimes totally absent, in historic interpretation and public memory of 17th, 18th, and 19th century Essex County and New England. The report seeks to address this absence by providing a comprehensive guide on how and where to locate resources for sharing honest and inclusive Black history.  

Dr. Kabria Baumgartner and Dr. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, the guide’s primary investigators, visited a combined twenty repositories to identify and compile archival evidence. The report provides an overview of each repository, its key holdings, and stories to be told of African American experience. Dr. Baumgartner and Dr. Duclos-Orsello further identified an overview of themes and recommendations for projects, programs, and exhibits that may emerge from the report.  

Essex County has been designated a National Heritage Area by Congress, a “place with natural, cultural, and historic resources” that constitutes an important landscape. Salem Maritime received funding for this project from the Civil Rights Initiative, a project to document and preserve African American history in the National Park System. The report will serve as an invaluable tool for students, teachers, public historians, scholars, and all others seeking to learn and share stories of African American residents of Essex County.  

African Americans in Essex County, Massachusetts: An Annotated Guide is available only online and can be download at www.nps.gov/articles/000/african-americans-in-essex-county.htm

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

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