University of New Orleans history professor Mary Niall Mitchell, who is director of the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at UNO, has been awarded a nearly $55,000 grant to help create an exhibit at the Whitney Plantation Museum that will include a specialized tour and curriculum material.
Whitney Plantation Museum is a historic site and memorial located in Wallace, Louisiana in St. John the Baptist Parish. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of slavery and its legacies and educates the public through tours, exhibits and programming.
The project, funded in part with a $54,300 grant from the Whitney Plantation, will benefit those interested in learning about self-emancipation and resistance by enslaved Africans and African Americans, Mitchell said.
The proposed exhibition and related programming would focus on resistance and freedom seeking in south Louisiana before and during the Civil War using research from the Freedom on the Move digital database as well as from the Whitney museum.
Mitchell, the principal investigator for the grant, is working in collaboration with Freedom on the Move and Cornell University, one of the five partner universities working on the database project.
The Freedom on the Move initiative has digitized more than 32,000 ads placed by enslavers seeking to locate enslaved fugitives or jailers hoping to recover reward bounties for men and women captured while fleeing enslavement. The publicly accessible database, which includes teacher resources and some 10,000 ads related to Louisiana, is a rich source of information on the history of slavery and resistance.
The need for the project is threefold, Mitchell said. It will continue to highlight and center the variety of Black experiences under slavery in the United States, including those who resisted, provide an accessible entry model into this history for other museums, historic sites, libraries and classrooms, and allows for Whitney to continue its educational mission of sharing the stories of Black survival and resistance in new ways.
Mitchell said the exhibition is projected to launch in three years at Whitney, alongside a slate of public programming, including a workshop on the developed curriculum.