Traces of the Trade

three people looking at a grave stone in the DeWolf's family cemetery in Bristol, Rhode Island

Dain, Jim and James Perry at James DeWolf’s family cemetery in Bristol, Rhode Island

One family’s inheritance illuminates the deep history of New England’s slave-based economies as well as the need for racial healing.

Descendants of the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history come face-to-face with the roots of their dynasty in Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Nine cousins join filmmaker Katrina Browne in retracing the Triangle Trade, revealing the history and legacy of New England’s hidden enterprise in human trafficking. Together, they gain powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide and confront what it may take to repair the historic damage.

Traces is more than the story of one family’s reckoning, the film was intended to spur conversation and action in its viewers. A nonprofit,The Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery, was established to carry on the work of raising consciousness about and confronting New England’s deep roots in the economics of slavery and the powerful “forgetting” that ensued. Mass Humanities has helped the Tracing Center establish itself by funding a classroom-ready version of the film and making grants to the Tracing Center for teacher workshops and public conversations on the legacy of the slavery-based economies that created New England’s wealth.

Watch the trailer for the national PBS debut of Traces of the Trade below.

The Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery in Watertown was awarded a $10,000 Project Grant responding to the Crisis, Community, and Civic Culture theme for Teacher development workshops in Medford and Deerfield based on the film “Traces of the Trade,” which chronicles the history of the slave trade in New England. [Project Director: Kristin Gallas; Date Awarded: 3/11/2011]

San Francisco Film Society was awarded a $10,000 Project Grant responding to the Liberty & Justice for All theme for the creation of a discussion version of the film, “Traces of the Trade”. This shorter version will be targeted to the educational market.[Project Director/Filmmaker: Katrina Browne; Date Awarded: 6/13/2008]

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