This online exhibition showcases artifacts of the 18th century Mount Clare plantation, allowing for an alternate interpretation of its cultural landscape that shifts the focus from owner to the enslaved. It was designed by Khadija Nia Adell, 2015/2016 Fellow in the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Urban Arts Leadership Fellowship. Ms. Adell's Fellowship was hosted by the Mayor's Office, the Baltimore City Department of Planning, and the Baltimore National Heritage Area. This online exhibition is an extension of a physical exhibit that was displayed at the Baltimore Visitor's Center from July 1 - August 8, 2016.
Thirty years of archaeological excavations have unearthed artifacts from many eras of the property’s history, and some of the most important finds have been objects that allow us to interpret the lives of the African and African American enslaved people, during their ownership by the Carroll family. Traces of survival are present in these objects, which offer evidence of the enslaved peoples’ resistance, spirituality, agency, and identity.
Throughout history, the personal narratives of slavery have often been ignored in favor of the legacy of the white colonial elite, effectively erasing the lives of the people who served as the very foundations of their wealth. During the 67 years of the active plantation, enslaved black people outnumbered the white people of Mount Clare--indentured and “elite”--258 to 25, illustrating that plantations have always been primarily black landscapes.
This erasure is due to many factors, and historians today are often hindered by a lack of information about the enslaved; in which historical archaeological excavations can provide insight.
This collection is important because through its objects we are able to begin to decipher the coded language, traditions, and material culture that enslaved people created and handled. The decision to focus our interpretation of the Mount Clare plantation (1750-1817) on the history of African and African American people, grants us the opportunity to incorporate and learn from different bodies of cultural knowledge that contribute to a fuller discussion on the ways in which the enslaved survived the many oppressions of slavery.
Images: Mount Clare Museum House, Carroll Park, Baltimore, MD