During the summer seminar, members of the Yale faculty and experienced public historians will discuss major historical and cultural issues significant to the interpretation of and development of programs about slavery and African American history and culture. Selected faculty may continue to serve as institutional consultants throughout the project year. See below for our participating faculty:
David W. Blight
David W. Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Harvard University Press, 2001), which received seven book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize as well as four awards from the Organization of American Historians, including the Merle Curti prizes for both intellectual and social history. Most recently, Blight wrote American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (Harvard University Press, 2011). Blight participated closely in the discovery and bringing to light of two new slave narratives in 2004 and edited and introduced the book, with Harcourt Press, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (2007). Blight has also been a consultant to several documentary films, including the 1998 PBS series, "Africans in America," and "The Reconstruction Era" (2004). Blight has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has also taught at Harvard University, at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and for seven years was a public high school teacher in his hometown, Flint, Michigan.
Lonnie G. Bunch, III
Lonnie G. Bunch, III is the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Prior to his appointment in 2005, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society, and held several positions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH), where as Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, he oversaw the curatorial and collections management staff of nearly 200. Bunch has also worked as an education specialist at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and as the curator of history for the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles. Bunch has written a number of books including his most recent, Call the Lost Dream Back: Essays on Race, History and Museums, published in 2010. Since 2008, Bunch has also served as the series co-editor of the New Public Scholarship Edition of the University of Michigan Press. Additionally, Bunch has held numerous teaching positions across the country including The American University in Washington, D.C. (1978-1979); the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (1979-1981); and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (1989-2000). He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from The American University in Washington, D.C. in African American and American history.
Christy S. Coleman
Christy S. Coleman began her career as living history interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Over the course of a ten-year career, she had increasing levels of responsibility finally serving as Director of Historic Programs. In 1999 she was named President and CEO of the nation's largest African American museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI. In 2008, Ms. Coleman accepted the position of President and CEO of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. She has lectured extensively and consulted with some of the country's leading museums, written a number of articles for scholarly and public history publications as well as being an award winning screenwriter for educational television. Her most recent work Freedom Bound won an Emmy in 2009 for Outstanding Educational Programming for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Rex M. Ellis
Rex M. Ellis is the Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Ellis is charged with planning, developing, directing, and managing all curatorial, collections, education and outreach programs and activities. Prior to this position, Dr. Ellis was Vice President of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he oversaw all programs and operations. Ellis was the first African American Vice President in the Foundation's history and served in that position for eight years. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Masters in Fine Arts from Wayne State University, a Masters of Divinity from Virginia Union University, and an Ed.D from the College of William and Mary. He has contributed articles to such publications as The Journal of American History, The Colonial Williamsburg Journal, August House Publications, and History News. He is the author of two books, Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee which chronicles the history of black banjo players from the time of slavery to the present.
Robert Harms is the H. J. Heinz Professor of History and African Studies at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in History in 1978 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His book River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade, 1500-1891 (Yale University Press, 1981) was based on two years of ethnographic and oral history research along the Congo River. In 1979 Professor Harms joined the History Department at the University of California-Berkeley, and later that year he joined the History Department at Yale University, where he has remained ever since. At Yale he has directed the African Studies Program, the Agrarian Studies Program, and the Southern African Research Program. Harms's book The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade (Basic Books, 2002), which told the story of a single voyage of a single French slave ship in 1731-32, won the Frederick Douglass Prize, the J. Russell Major Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the International Book Prize. Robert Harms is currently doing research on the making of colonialism in the Congo River basin.
Leslie M. Harris
Leslie M. Harris is Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities, and Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Emory University. She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and her doctoral degree from Stanford University. She is the author of the award-winning In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863; and co-editor with Ira Berlin of Slavery in New York, which accompanied the groundbreaking New-York Historical Society exhibition of the same name. In 2004, she co-founded the Transforming Community Project at Emory University, which uses history to provide context to dialogues on racial and other forms of human diversity. The Transforming Community Project has received generous funding from the Emory University Strategic Plan Fund and from the Ford Foundation. In February 2011, she co-convened the conference "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" at Emory University. Harris is currently working on a number of book projects: a book on late-twentieth century New Orleans; co-edited volumes on slavery and freedom in Savannah (with the Owens-Thomas House of Savannah), slavery and the university, and slavery and sexuality; and two books on slavery and manhood in the antebellum South.
Jonathan Holloway, Ph.D., Yale University, 1995, is Professor of African American Studies, History and American Studies. He specializes in post-emancipation United States history with a focus on social and intellectual history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 (2002), the editor of Ralph Bunche's A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (2005), and the co-editor of Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century (2007), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Holloway regularly teaches an undergraduate survey, "African American History: Emancipation to the Present," and a graduate seminar, "Black Intellectuals Since 1941." In 2009 Holloway won the William Clyde DeVane Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching in Yale College. Since 2005 he has served as the master of Calhoun College, one of Yale's twelve residential colleges. He was named Chair of the Council of Masters in 2009. Holloway received an Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year in order to complete his current monograph, Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1941. He is also a non-residential fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University.
Matthew Frye Jacobson
Matthew Frye Jacobson is Professor of American Studies and History, and acting director of the Public Humanities program at Yale. He is the author of five books on race, immigration, and US political culture, including Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998) and Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (2000). He has served as a consultant for Save Ellis Island and the Jewish Museum of New York, as well as numerous documentary films. He is the director of the Historian's Eye (www.historianseye.org), a multimedia documentary project devoted to the current moment in United States history.
Lynda B. Kaplan
Lynda B. Kaplan has been a principal at American History Workshop (AHW) for over twenty years, responsible for the development and production of media elements film, video, computer-interactive, audio, and handheld devices that enrich the interpretive content of the exhibition landscape. For AHW's six blockbuster history shows at the New-York Historical Society and for many other AHW projects, she has produced hundreds of pieces that employ a wide variety of techniques to recover and present the voices and perspectives of people who have left little documentation in the archival record. Ms. Kaplan has also overseen AHW's curatorial research, including arranging for the loans of objects and reproductions of historical documents from more than a hundred libraries, museums, and private collectors in eighteen countries. She has also initiated efforts to enrich the visit experience of sight-impaired visitors through tactile elements and descriptive audio tours. Prior to joining AHW, Ms. Kaplan was an associate producer for two Emmy award-winning programs at WCBS-TV, a researcher for several PBS programs, and Producer / Director for Adam Smith's Money World on PBS. She also worked at ABC's Good Morning America both as a researcher and field producer.
Richard Rabinowitz is founder and president of American History Workshop, dedicated to enlivening the public understanding of history through services such as audience analysis, exhibit planning and design, media planning and production, fund raising assistance, and organizational development. Over the past 40 years he has led creative teams of scholars, curators, educators, artists, architects, designers, and institutional planners in fashioning over 500 successful and innovative history programs at sites like the New-York Historical Society, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati; and other sites in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Since 2005, he has curated six blockbuster history exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society, including Slavery in New York and Revolution! and The Atlantic World Reborn. He is currently guest curator for the "Slavery and Freedom" exhibition at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, to be opened in Washington in 2015. Rabinowitz has an A.B. summa cum laude and a PhD from Harvard University and is the author of many works in history and museum practice.
Fath Davis Ruffins
Fath Davis Ruffins is Curator in the Division of Home and Community Life at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) where her research specialties include African American history and culture, ethnicity and commercial imagery, and 20th-century urban history. Ruffins holds a B.A. in American History and Literature from Radcliffe College, and is A.B.D. in History of American Civilization from Harvard University. Ruffins has curated a number of exhibitions at NMAH including "Ralph J. Bunche" (2004), "A Collector's Vision of Puerto Rico" (1998), and "1848: New Border, New Nation" (1998). She has also served as guest curator of "From Slavery to Freedom" at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (2004) and of "From Victory to Freedom" at the National Afro-American Museum in Wilberforce, Ohio (1988). Ruffins is the author of many articles and publications including "Revisiting the Old Plantation: Reparations, Reconciliation, and Museumizing American Slavery" in Museums Frictions edited by Ivan Karp and Corrine Kratz (forthcoming); "Four African American Women on the National Landscape" in Restoring Women's History through Historic Preservation edited by Gail Dubrow (2002); and "Sites of Memory, Sites of Struggle: The 'Materials' of History" in Major Problems in African American History. Volume 1: From Slavery to Freedom, 1619-1865 edited by Thomas Holt and Elsa Barkley Brown (1999). Currently, Ruffins is writing a book for Smithsonian Press on African American collections and museums nationwide entitled Finding our Story in the History of the Nation.
Jill Sanderson is an Independent museum education and interpretation specialist. Most recently, she trained legislative staff at the US Capitol to give tours. She led two start-up education departments at President Lincoln's Cottage, and Tudor Place Historic House and Garden. She began her career in museum education over 15 years ago at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. She has a BA from Wellesley College and a Master's degree from Bank Street Graduate School of Education.
Dana Schaffer is the Assistant Director at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University where she plans and directs public and academic programs and initiatives. Dana began her career in public history fifteen years ago as a docent at the Old South Meeting House on Boston's Freedom Trail. After serving as the education coordinator for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Dana worked as a program coordinator for Smithsonian Journeys where she developed educational travel programs focusing on history, natural history, and arts and culture. While living in Washington, DC, Dana volunteered with the after-school program KidPower DC, working with inner-city fourth and fifth graders to foster the study of local history as a starting point for comprehensive citizenship training. She also served as assistant curator for the Mount Vernon Square Community Gallery exhibition at the City Museum of Washington, DC. As part of her graduate work, Dana conducted an oral history project on the 1968 riots in Washington, DC, which was published as an article in the peer-reviewed journal Washington History. She has also presented papers on her research at the Oral History Association Conference and Washington Historical Studies Conference and has worked at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina State Archives, and Harvard University Archives. Dana holds a B.A in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in Public History from American University.
Dianne Swann-Wright is the founder and principal of Swann Associates, a museum consulting firm specializing in exhibition research, planning and interpretation. She began her professional career at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery where she worked as a docent. Over the past 25 years she has worked in public and private museums in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania. At Monticello, the museum home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, VA, she directed African American and Special Programs while also serving as project historian for the Getting Word Oral History Project. Following her tenure at Monticello she moved back to her hometown of Baltimore, MD, where she served as the founding curator and director of the Douglass Myers Maritime Museum. Dr. Swann-Wright has chaired a number of institutional research committees, curated art and history exhibits, and written magazine and journal articles on topics focusing on African American men, women and children. She has served as guest curator for seven year-long exhibitions at the Legacy Museum of African American History in Lynchburg, VA, on topics ranging from the development of African American spiritual practices (By God's Grace, 2003), to the evolution of black businesses in Central Virginia (Mindin' Our Own Business, 2005), to the rise and fall of Jim Crow (Deep in my Heart, 2006 and Someday, 2007). She is the author of A Way Out of No Way, Claiming Family and Freedom in the New South, which was nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction. In 1999 she received the Educational Publishing Distinguished Achievement Award for authoring articles and editing the Sally Hemings Edition of Footsteps Magazine. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has a Master's Degree in History and Higher Education from James Madison University, and a Ph.D. in American and African American History from the University of Virginia.
Banner image: "New York in Transit," 2001, by Jacob Lawrence. Reproduction, including downloading of Lawrence works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.