“Where Slavery Died Hard: The Forgotten History of Ulster County and the Shawangunk Mountain Region,” presented by the Cragsmoor Historical Society
This award-winning documentary video grows out of one community’s efforts to reconsider its history and the history of the region that surrounds it. The video originated as a collaboration between the co-authors of a 2016 slide show and talk, archaeologists/historic preservation consultants Wendy E. Harris and Arnold Pickman, and members of the Cragsmoor community who came forward to volunteer their time and talents to transform the talk into a documentary video. Two years in the making, the video delves deeply into the hidden history of southern Ulster County’s rural hinterlands, documenting the experiences of both enslaved and enslavers as well as the present-day landscape that still holds visual evidence of their lives and labors. The information presented draws upon primary documents, archaeological fieldwork, surveys of local historic architecture, as well as the insights of contemporary scholars and researchers such as Dr. A.J. Williams-Myers. For the video’s creators, the goal is to fashion a new and more inclusive narrative about the region’s past. It is their hope that the video’s distribution will help open dialogue on the historical impact of slavery on all parts of our country, including New York State, and that it will serve as a vehicle for understanding and reconciliation.
Archaeologists/Historic Preservation consultants Wendy E. Harris and Arnold Pickman formed Cragsmoor Consultants in 2002. Their clients have included the Open Space Institute, the Nature Conservancy, the Joint Historic Preservation Commission of Wawarsing and Ellenville, the Historical Society of Shawangunk and Gardiner, and the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway. Prior to this Harris served as staff archaeologist for the New York District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She is also a co-author of Yama Farms: A Most Unusual Catskills Resort (2006) and a contributor to the collection Tales of Gotham: Historical Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Microhistory of New York City (Springer 2013). Pickman served as Principal Investigator and/or Field Investigator at many New York City archaeological projects including the South Street Seaport, Hanover Square, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the Staten Island Conference House, the Queens County Farm Museum and Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village. Together, Harris and Pickman worked on a series of investigations of the Hudson River ice harvesting industry. The results of their research appear in The Environmental History of the Hudson River (SUNY Press 2011). In 2014 the Cragsmoor Conservancy published Harris and Pickman’s monograph account of their archaeological excavation at the site of what was once the home of Peter P. Brown, a local farmer who is depicted in many works by the well-known nineteenth-century American genre painter, Edward Lamson Henry. Between 2014 and 2015 they produced a series of articles for the Cragsmoor Historical Journal dealing with the early history of Cragsmoor and the Shawangunk Mountain Region. Research for the articles resulted in their discovery of Cragsmoor’s association with Ulster County’s slaveholding past.
“Where Slavery Died Hard: The Forgotten History of Ulster County and the Shawangunk Mountain Region” is the recent recipient of the Museum of Association of New York Award of Merit for Innovation in Collection Access.
General Admission $10
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Sponsored by Ulster Savings Bank.