Enslaved Wallingford: The Missing Chapter of our American Narrative

Thursday, May 26th, 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the Community Room and on Zoom
Registration required

This popular presentation is back as the first of WPL’s programs celebrating Wallingford’s 350th (+2).

NehemiahThe pandemic gave The Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust the “creative pause,” if you will, for a reinterpretation our historic properties, all of which have ties to New England slavery. The Trust oversees the Nehemiah Royce House (1672), the Franklin Johnson Mansion (1866), and the Yale Homestead (1790), which traces its origins to Yale University founder, Elihu Yale, and his family’s ties to the East Indian slave trade. According to historian Anne Farrow, “In Connecticut and elsewhere in New England, ‘All the best families owned ‘captives.’” And the histories of the Royce, Johnson, and Yale homes all bear out this statement. Rebuilding the historic record of enslaved Blacks, as a group and as individuals, can provide insight into this “buried truth.” With Wallingford’s 350th celebration postponed to 2022, the Trust has embarked on the “Black Stories Matter history project” to provide the colonial history of a significant population of free and enslaved black Americans in Meriden and Wallingford who were responsible for building the prosperity of our towns, a chapter that has heretofore remained unexplored in our written history.

Chris Menapace is an educator and independent researcher of northern enslavement. He received his Master’s degree in Public History from Central Connecticut State University and has done extensive research into Connecticut’s enslaved population. Chris works with the history of enslavement and Connecticut at both the Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust as Vice President and Discovering Amistad as their Senior Educator.

ATTEND VIRTUALLY: The program will be streamed live from the library straight to your home through Zoom. Once registered, you will be contacted prior to the program with participation instructions.

ATTEND IN-PERSON: Face masks are recommended.

WATCH THE RECORDING: Can’t make it? The program will be recorded and uploaded to the library’s YouTube soon after.