Slavery in Topsfield

A video of my January 17, 2016 presentation to the Topsfield Historical Society. It was a standing room only crowd.

[vimeo 153316470 w=500 h=282]

Note: My talk begins at the 5:00 mark and, at the 35:00 mark, there’s a short break with a picture of the “Free Soil, Free Labor” banner on display in the barn.

This was the first public presentation of my results. I had researched the households in Topsfield where enslaved people lived. I knew most of my audience didn’t even know slavery had existed in our town. I wanted them to see that, within the boundaries of eighteenth century rural life, enslaved people endured additional onerous limitations. I chose to focus on families because I knew the struggle to stay together as a family would resonate best with my audience. Most of all, rather than feeling pity or guilt, I wanted my audience to gain a respectful appreciation for the efforts of enslaved people to live full lives despite their enslavement and for their struggle against it on a personal and institutional level.

Video courtesy of Bob Sweet and Boxford Cable TV.
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