In 2017, while at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Pete Ross and I made an amazing discovery. A diorama made in Suriname by a free man of Color named Gerrit Schouten looked stunningly like a watercolor from South Carolina painted by a white man named John Rose. When I went into the archives and learned more about the dance in the diorama, the Banya Prei, and then compared that against early accounts of the banjo, I was floored. What we saw in Suriname cropped up all over the Americas.
At the 2018 Banjo Gathering, Pete and I presented about the Banya discovery.
Is your neighbor being annoying? Too loud? Coveting another neighbor's wife? What do you do about it?
Last year, my friend Erik found a recording titled "Dr. Freeman's speech dedicating the Lee-Jackson Monument in Wyman Park" in a friend's record collection. The 33 1/3 LP was homemade, and the fact that it dealt with a seemingly out-of-place confederate statue in a city park about two miles from his house intrigued him.
He shared the recording with me, and I knew the story of the recording had to be told through audio. My radio-producer friend Nadia Ramlagan and I started researching the the speech, the event, the artist, the donation, and produced a radio piece that aired last week on the Marc Steiner Show.
The story explores the history of the statue, and how that history should be a part of the debate about what to do with the confederate monuments in Baltimore today.
At the southernmost tip of South America, the Andes mountain range plummets into the ocean and collides with the pampas plains of Argentina. Here, on the island of Tierra del Fuego, the wind whips across the landscape, the Straight of Magellan churns; the beauty of nature collides with the harsh realities of an Antarctic climate. For thousands of years, the Ona tribe called this place home. But as European settlers expanded throughout South America, they took the land the Ona lived on, systematically killed the Ona, and diminished their way of life. Finally, in the 1970s, the last person of full Ona ancestry died.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.
Here, pieces of material culture are examined in the light. The stacks are open. Read the stories behind objects and ephemera found in private collections, archives, and museums.
African American History
Banjo Collector's Gathering
"Freak Show" History
James Ford Bell Library
Native American History
New York City
South American History
Tri Racial Isolate
World War II