Finding Histories: Page 1

Curiosity prompted Clarisa Cleary to find out more about the history of African Americans in her area, when, intrigued by the old, nearly forgotten cemetery that she passed every day on her way to school, she became determined to find out more about its inhabitants, their world, and their legacy.

There are many stories about Connecticut’s enslaved and free African Americans waiting to be uncovered in every city and town in the state, and the resources needed to discover these stories are often as near as your public library. The challenge is this: Making a long-ago history real. How was this history lived by real people in their time? This is also the challenge that makes this story such a fascinating one, because the struggle of Connecticut’s African Americans for freedom and citizenship is a story with national ramifications. Some of that history is still waiting to be discovered.

Let’s say you want to begin your own exploration of the lives of African Americans in your town or the connections between your area of the state and slavery. Where should you begin? This module is an attempt to help you take those first steps, and a very brief introduction to the world of materials that can help you.

It’s important to remember that many towns had almost no enslaved population but deep connections to enslavement through participation in slavery-dependent businesses…