Columbus Museum Exhibition Discovers Valley’s Black Population in Slavery and Freedom

In 1860, nearly 90,000 slaves, almost half the entire population of the lower Chattahoochee River Valley of Georgia and Alabama, called the region home. These people tended the crops that underpinned the area’s economy, built the structures many of its citizens lived, worked and worshipped in, and affected virtually every aspect of the social structure of the era. Yet because slaves did not generate written records of their own, our understanding of their lives is extremely limited. Many crucial details about how they dealt with life as bondsmen or how they managed the tumultuous transition to freedom are difficult, if not impossible, to find.

Thomas Nast
Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, wood engraving printed in black and rose, 1865, Thomas Nast, published by S. Bott. Courtesy: Library of Congress

“Let the Records Show: Discovering the Valley’s Black Population in Slavery and Freedom”, to be on view at the Columbus Museum from January 17, 2010 to July 11, 2010 in the Galleria Cases, attempts to shed light on some of the experiences of slaves and freedmen through an examination of several types of documentary evidence. Ranging from bills of sale and estate inventories to city ordinances and personal letters, the exhibition includes a variety of historical records that give insight into their lives through the important bits of information they contain. The materials will be supplemented by several reproduction items of the type used by slaves in daily life and a limited number of other original artifacts from the era. While these items cannot tell us every detail of the lives of the people they are associated with, they can help us gain a new understanding of them as individuals.

Related Programming:

Special Film Feature: Glory
Thursday, January 28, 2010
6 p.m.
The Museum will feature the film Glory, a civil war film about black soldiers headed by Col. Robert Gould Shaw.

2010 Lunch & Lecture Series

Every Thursday during the month of February 2010, the Columbus Museum will feature its annual Lunch and Lecture Series. All Lunch and Lecture programs will be held in the Museum’s Wright Room from noon to 1 p.m. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Box lunches are available by advanced request; contact Melinda Durham at 706.748.2562, ext. 651 or [email protected]

February 18, 2010
Let the Records Show: “African Americans and the Forging of Freedom” with Patience Essah

Patience Essah is a professor of history at Auburn University and the author of A House Divided: Slavery and Emancipation in Delaware, 1638-1865. Her research focuses on the history of the slave trade, slavery and emancipation. Her current research, an analysis of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, examines the struggle to ratify the amendment that offered freedom to all slaves throughout the United States. She teaches courses in Africana, African, African-American and World history.

February 25, 2010
Let the Records Show: “Reconstruction and the Evolution of African-American Churches and Schools in the Chattahoochee Region” with Jeanne Cyriaque

Jeanne Cyriaque coordinates African American programs for Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division in the Department of Natural Resources. She is the staff liaison to the Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network steering committee and is the editor of their award-winning publication Reflections. She features articles about African American churches and schools in the publication. Jeanne recently completed a two-year term as a commissioner of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a National Heritage Area that includes the barrier islands and coastal regions in Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina. She is a member of the selection committees for the Georgia Historical Society historic marker program and Georgia Women of Achievement.

Jeanne completed her bachelor’s degree at Bradley University and holds a master of arts from the University of Illinois, both in sociology. She is a founding member of the Rosenwald Schools Initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She represents Georgia on the Board of Advisors for the National Trust.

Gallery Tales: Life After Emancipation
February 2, 4, 9, 18, 22, 25 and March 2, 4, 9
9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

Students in K-5th grades will learn through storytelling and art, as guest educator Patty Chamberlain will teach students about life after emancipation in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Special Film Feature: Glory
Thursday, January 28, 2010
6 p.m.
The Museum will feature the film Glory, a Civil War film about black soldiers headed by Col. Robert Gould Shaw starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, in the Patrick Theatre.

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