Traces of the Trade

In Commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, Massachusetts and the Economy of Slavery featured screenings of the discussion version of Katrina Browne’s documentary Traces of the Trade at various historical sites in Massachusetts, paired with archival materials, and followed by discussion of the centrality of the business of slavery to the Massachusetts economy prior to the Civil War as well as the “traces” of this economy in our economy and landscape today. Watch the trailer –>

Read Traces of the Trade: An Interview with filmmaker Katrina Browne

Read the press of previous events held in Massachusetts.  For other screenings of the film, not sponsored by Mass Humanities, visit www.tracesofthetrade.org/screenings.

The program is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through its “We the People” initiative, and created in partnership with the following organizations:

Alternatives Unlimited, Inc.
Boston African American National Historic Site
Boston National Historical Park
The House of the Seven Gables
John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission
Lowell Historical Society
Lowel National Historical ParkOld South Meeting House
New Bedford Historical Society
New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford Whaling National Historical ParK
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Salem State College Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Sheffield Historical Society
The Trustees of Reservations
UMass Lowell, Center for Lowell History
Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail
Worcester Historical Museum

Previously held programs:Photo Credit: J. Alden/EverythingWestport.com

6-9 pm, Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford

On January 28, 1828, Charles W. Morgan of New Bedford, a Quaker whaling merchant in business with abolitionist William Rotch, Jr., made a list of his assets. Among them were shares in the whalers CONDOR, EMILY MORGAN, and FRANCIS HENRIETTA, as well as a 1/10th ownership in the Pocasset Cotton Mill in Fall River, an ongoing and profit-making concern. In this and other ways, though slavery was abolished in the commonwealth during the 1780s, Massachusetts citizens continued to reap profits from slave labor elsewhere until the Civil War.

Join historians Norman Barber and Michael Dyer for a screening of an hour-long version of the acclaimed documentary, Traces of the Trade, followed by a moderated discussion of the business of slavery and the economy of Massachusetts prior to the Civil War.

12:30-4:30pm, Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dewey Memorial Hall
Sheffield Green, Sheffield

In 1783, Elizabeth Freeman challenged Colonel Ashley in the Court of Small Pleas to gain her freedom under the Massachusetts constitution. With hers and other litigation, slavery was abolished in the Commonwealth. In 1808, Federal law outlawed importation of slaves into the United States. However, did those laws dissolve the dependence of Massachusetts citizens on slave plantation labor elsewhere.

Join historians for a special tour of Ashley House, watch the new hour-long version version of the acclaimed documentary,Traces of the Trade, and discuss the business of slavery and the domestic economy of Sheffield prior to the Civil War.

6pm-8:30pm, Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Old South Meeting House, Boston

Opening Event with Representative Byron Rushing. Faneuil Hall, the “Cradle of Liberty” so prominent on the Freedom Trail, was built and donated to Boston in 1742 by slave trader Peter Faneuil, West India commission merchant of Boston. Slavery was abolished in the Commonwealth during the 1780’s. In 1808, Federal law outlawed importation of slaves into the United States. But those laws did not end the profits Massachusetts citizens reaped from slave labor elsewhere …

Take a special walk through Boston **, join historians in watching the new hour-long version of the acclaimed documentary, Traces of the Trade, and discuss the business of slavery and the financial world of Boston prior to the Civil War.

4pm, Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alternatives Unlimited, Inc., Whitinsville

Cotton does not grow in the Blackstone River Valley, yet the Whitin family cotton mills in Northbridge/Whitinsville had 200 spindles in 1809, and around 9,500 by 1845. Thus, though slavery was abolished in the Commonwealth during the 1780’s, Massachusetts citizens continued to reap profits from slave labor elsewhere until the Civil War.

Join Brown University historian Seth Rockman on a special tour of the recently restored 1826 Whitin Brick Mill, followed by a viewing of an hour-long version of the acclaimed documentary, Traces of the Trade, and a discussion of the business of slavery and the economy of Blackstone River Valley prior to the Civil War. Refreshments provided.

1-4pm, Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lowell National Historical Park, 246 Market St, Lowell

Lowell textile mills consumed eight hundred thousand pounds of Southern cotton per week in 1858, producing, among many other things, the inexpensive cloth known as “Lowell,” or “Negro” cloth used by plantations throughout the South. In this and other ways, though slavery was abolished in the Commonwealth during the 1780’s, Massachusetts citizens continued to reap profits from slave labor elsewhere until the Civil War.

Join historians for a special tour of Lowell National Historical Park, followed by a screening of an hour-long version of the acclaimed documentary, Traces of the Trade. UMass historian Bob Forrant will moderate a discussion of textile production, the business of slavery, and the economy of Massachusetts prior to the Civil War. Light Refreshments provided.

11:00am – 3:30pm, Saturday, November 8, 2008

The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street, Salem

The Salem schooner Sally arrived home on August 2, 1802 with a cargo of molasses and brown sugar from Surinam. On February 3, 1803, she left for Surinam again, laden with local provisions and dried fish, which formed a staple diet for the slaves on the sugar plantations in the West Indies and northeast coast of South America. In this and other ways, though slavery was abolished in the commonwealth during the 1780s, Massachusetts citizens continued to reap profits from slave labor elsewhere until the Civil War.

Join historians Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello and Emily Murphy for a screening of an hour-long version of the acclaimed documentary, Traces of the Trade, followed by a special tour of Salem and a moderated discussion of the business of slavery and the maritime economy of Massachusetts prior to the Civil War.