Select Page

Richard A. Bailey, PhD, Fitzpatrick Professor of History and Associate Professor of History, recently received notification that the National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) awarded a Digital Projects for the Public Prototype Grant to the proposed project “Lucy Terry Prince: A Window in African American Life in Early Rural New England.”

Bailey will join a team of renowned scholars including Joanne Pope Melish, Christy Clark-Pujara, Thomas Doughton, Kerri Greenidge, and Jared Hardesty as they work with artist David Cooper and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) in the Old Deerfield Village Historic Landmark District in Massachusetts, to build an immersive and interactive website focusing on the lives and contributions of enslaved and free Africans in early rural New England.

The project will focus on Lucy Terry Prince, the first documented African American poet. Her life, from birth and captivity in Africa c.1726 to enslavement in Deerfield, MA, to her death as a free woman in Vermont in 1821, encompasses signal events in the lives of enslaved people. Lucy’s life illuminates important aspects of the Revolutionary era: a) how the slave trade and enslaved African American labor were instrumental in creating a thriving maritime economy in colonial New England; b) how desire for independence fueled by that economy gave rise to Revolutionary political principles that enslaved people seized upon to obtain their freedom; c) how African Americans struggled to enact those principles after the Revolution; and d) how, in this context, African Americans cultivated and expressed their essential humanity and self-determination.

Submitted by: Richard A. Bailey, associate professor, Department of History