NASHVILLE, TN—July 2017—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Little Compton Historical Society is the recipient of an Award of Merit for its recent project entitled “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold: Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island.” The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 72nd year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
“If Jane Should Want to be Sold” is a multi-faceted local history project that restored the true stories of over 200 enslaved people of African and Native American descent to the history of Little Compton. It also explored the lives of fifty people of all races, mostly children, forcibly indentured by the town of Little Compton in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as the stories of free people of color who lived and worked in the community from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. The project corresponded with the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Little Compton when the town’s last enslaved person, Kate Hilliard, received her freedom in her owner’s will in 1816. The Historical Society conducted three years of primary source research in archives throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts in order to produce a book and a special exhibition, both entitled “If Jane Should Want to be Sold.” The project also included a variety of public programs connecting the local history of slavery with contemporary issues of racism and human trafficking. The exhibition is now on display at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities at Brown University and is free and open to the public. The book is available at the Little Compton Historical Society and local retailers, the Brown University Library, and amazon.com. In the fall, the historic data collected throughout the project will be available to the public via a database produced in partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and George Mason University.
This year, AASLH is proud to confer forty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2017 AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, September 8. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.
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. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to http://www.aaslh.org.
The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and maintains numerous affinity groups and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting.