June 29 Salon - Poplar Grove, Part 3: African American History at Poplar Grove with Adam Goodheart and Olivia Wood

RiverArts Salons

A RiverArts Salon, is a (virtual) place to learn something new, share ideas, explore interesting topics, see and be seen, and have fun.

Tuesdays from 5 - 5:45

The Poplar Grove Project

Part Three of our series of Salon discussions about the Poplar Grove Project, exploring the history of a 400 year old former plantation on a remote peninsula in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. This time, we'll talk about African American history at Poplar Grove.

In 2008, Washington College Historian and Director of the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience Adam Goodheart and his students discovered a trove of papers there: documents from the mundane to the extraordinary, dating back to the 17th century. Papers that had lain unread for generations were stashed in attics and outbuildings in a crumbling, mouse-eaten jumble.

The Poplar Grove Project was directed by Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist of Maryland, and Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. The student team included Washington College undergraduates James Schelberg '11 and Jeremy Rothwell '09, as well as Olivia Wood, an Emory descendant and a student at Rhodes College at the time of the project. The team supervisor was Washington College alumnus Albin Kowalewski '07

For some background on Poplar Grove and the archive project, follow these links:

Click here to read as Starr Center for the American Experience Director Adam Goodheart sets the stage. 

Another post by Adam Goodheart about the letters between two siblings that Olivia worked on most, funny because the teenage sentiment is timeless!

One of the thousands of images of Poplar Grove documents preserved in the Maryland State Archives. In this case, a document from 1786 describing the boundaries of Corsica Farm

NPR coverage

A contemporaneous article by Simon Kelly’s in the Queen Anne's County Record Observer 

Click here for My Darling Alice, a book by local author Mary Wood based on "Letters and Legends from an Eastern Shore Farm 1837-1935" and set on Poplar Grove and its environs.

Adam Goodheart

Adam Goodheart is a historian, essayist, journalist, and New York Times bestselling author. In 2006, after several years as a part-time scholar-in-residence at Washington College, Goodheart was appointed Director of the College’s Starr Center for the study of the American Experience. The position was endowed by the Hodson Trust later that year as the Hodson Trust-Griswold Directorship. Under his leadership, the Starr Center has focused on exploring new approaches to America’s past and present, on fostering the art of historical writing, and on opening doorways to on- and off-campus opportunities for Washington College students. The Center is interdisciplinary and works with faculty and students in a broad range of academic departments. During Goodheart’s tenure, the Starr Center was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the largest federal grant in Washington College’s history. He forged partnerships with the Smithsonian on the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series and with the New York Times on the “Historically Corrected” series of columns, created in collaboration with Washington College students. New annual writing fellowships bring nationally distinguished authors to live in Chestertown and teach at the College. Starr Center student fellowships at leading museums, libraries, and cultural institutions – across the U.S. and overseas – award fully paid summer positions to outstanding Washington College undergraduates in many different fields.

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