Witness Stones Learning Activity Overview
Just as Norwich has its Boston Trowtrow, Hartford has its Cuff, and Madison has its Pompey, Guilford has Moses, an enslaved person who is remembered, if incompletely, in our local histories. But how many more enslaved people contributed to Connecticut in the Colonial and Early American periods. Who were they? Where did they live? Did they die enslaved? How can remember those who made Connecticut what it is today while ignoring all of the colors of the fabric of our communities? How can we work towards justice, equality, and inclusion today when we forget the past when those ideals were withheld from some of our citizens?
The aim of the Witness Stones Project is to restore the history and honor the humanity and contributions of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities. We will shine a light on our history when justice, equality, and inclusion was withheld from members of our community while restoring the humanity of the enslaved and remembering their contributions.
We have and will to continue to engage our students from our local middle schools to research, analyze, and write about enslaved residents using wills, property records, anecdotes, state statutes, and the U.S. Constitution. The lessons are based around the statutes and laws and juxtapose the information pertaining to a local enslaved persons including Moses from Guilford, Gad Asher from North Branford, Venture Smith from Southeastern Connecticut, James Mars from Litchfield County, and how that information informs us to attitudes about slavery in Connecticut and our relationships today.
After the initial study of five themes of slavery: dehumanization, treatment of enslaved, paternalism, economics of slavery, and agency and resistance, local schools can use the primary documents from their own communities to create inscriptions for their community’s Witness Stones, develop one page biographical fact sheets, and produce biographical sketches (about three pages). These products will be used to create the local Witness Stones and then be uploaded to the WitnessStones.org website for archiving and future research.
Working with local school districts and historical societies, this project is spreading across Connecticut, engaging students in inquiry based learning, with differentiated activities. Students will participate and lead in civic engagement activities associated with the installation of the Witness Stones in their communities.
There are many more details to follow. We will upload information and details as we create this important unit.
Please contact Dennis@WitnessStones.org with any questions or comments.