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"This gave me great influence over them": The Voice of Frederick Douglass at Wye House

Author(s): Elizabeth Pruitt ; Benjamin Skolnik

Year: 2015

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As historical archaeologists, we use historical documentation while also frequently claiming that our work "gives voice to the voiceless." For a decade, Archaeology in Annapolis has been excavating at Wye House on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in an attempt to highlight the lives of enslaved—later freed—Africans and African Americans on the plantation.  However, our work of "giving voice" runs into the issue that the most dominant voice from this site comes from Frederick Douglass, who shares his experiences of being enslaved as a boy at Wye House and throughout Talbot County, Maryland. This paper attempts to articulate two researchers' relationships with Douglass as a historical figure, as an author, as a literary character, in popular culture, and ultimately as a guide into their archaeological research.  We ask, 'How can archaeologists use the experiences of historical figures who spoke for themselves to better tell the narratives of those who could not?'

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"This gave me great influence over them": The Voice of Frederick Douglass at Wye House. Elizabeth Pruitt, Benjamin Skolnik. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434084)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 525

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America