Nashville, TN, and Bristol, RI – The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) congratulates the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society, of Bristol, RI, for receiving an Award of Excellence for The Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, RI. The Award of Excellence is part of the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the
preservation of state and local history. It is the first time in more than four years that a RI project has been honored.
Funded by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and by a local anonymous donor, The Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, RI is a 56 foot-long strip of fabric that lists in chronological order the names of those who were enslaved in Bristol, Rhode Island, between 1680 and 1808. All those identified occupy their own space on the timeline, regardless of how much or little is known about them. The approximately 600 entries represent approximately 475 enslaved individuals in total.
The Timeline was born from the desire to tell the history of enslavement in Bristol in a way that broke long-standing barriers that have blocked this history from being told or encouraged its misinterpretation. Bristol, RI, served as the center of the notorious DeWolf family’s slave trading empire between about 1800 and 1835, but as the Timeline showed, enslaved people were present in the town from its founding in 1680. The timeline format was a deliberate choice designed to present facts that were both indisputable, such that the deniers could no longer deny, and minimally interpreted, so as to empower those wanting to tell their own story.
The Timeline benefitted from a high level of community support and counts among its supporters the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, a major funder of the project (rihumanities.org), the East Bay BIPOC Research Project (ResearchBipocHistory.org), the Warren Middle Passage Project (warrenmpp.com), the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Roger Williams University (rwu.edu) and Linden Place Museum (lindenplace.org).
Grant funding from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities funded the creation of four fabric versions of the Timeline that accommodated a wide range of display options.
The Timeline is frequently seen in prominent public spaces in Bristol, RI, and is available for display upon request. A video version of the Timeline is also available at researchbipochistory.org
This year, AASLH is proud to confer fifty-one national awards honoring people, projects, and exhibits. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.
The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), a national nonprofit association, provides leadership and resources to help the history community thrive and make the past more meaningful for all people. AASLH serves the tens of thousands of history organizations, professionals, and volunteers around the country who help people of all ages develop critical thinking skills and understand how learning history helps society make progress toward justice. Through research, advocacy, and our field-leading professional development program, AASLH advances public history practice and connects history practitioners to critical issues in the field and to one another.
For more information about AASLH and its Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to aaslh.org.
The Timeline of Enslavement in Bristol, RI is a 56 foot-long strip of fabric that lists in chronological order the names of those who were enslaved in Bristol, Rhode Island, between 1680 and 1808. All those identified occupy their own space on the timeline, regardless of how much or little is known about them. The approximately 600 entries represent approximately 475 enslaved individuals in total.
THE TIMELINE ON DISPLAY AT THE BH&PS
The mission of the Society is to stimulate interest in the history of Bristol, Rhode Island, through education, research, and the collection and preservation of historic objects.
The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society is a 501(c)(3) Organization.
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