The new exhibit in the JHS display case in the Jamestown Philomenian Library tells the stories of some of Africans and African Americans who have lived on the island over the passed 350 years.

man at doorway

During the colonial era, Black and Native American slaves made up about one-third of the population.  Most of them worked on the farms producing the agricultural products the were exported throughout the colonies and to the Caribbean Islands.  When slavery began to die out in the 19th century, the Jamestown Black community diminished, although the Rhode Island Black regiment trained on Dutch Island during the Civil War.  At the end of the century the growing resort economy brought new jobs and new families to the island, and later retired military came to stay.

veterans honor role

Above, the portion of the will of Daniel Weeden Sr (1696-1785) in which he offers freedom to his four adult slaves and arranges for the manumission of the two younger ones when they reach 23 years of age.  The typescript is a partial transcription of the clauses.

Interior of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church on Cole Street.  The building was the original Central Baptist Church and stood at the corner of Narragansett and Southwest avenues.  It was moved and repurposed as the AME church in 1891.  It is now a private home

death certificate

Death certificate for James Howland, who died January 3, 1859, at 100 years of age.  He was the last person in Rhode Island to have been born into slavery.  He was a free man at the time of his death, living in the same household in which he had been enslaved. 

slave medallion
election card

Above left, this medallion was erected at East Ferry in Jamestown as part of the Rhode Island Slave History medallion project. Right, Valerie Southern served one term on the Jamestown Town Council.  This postcard was distributed during her bid for re-election.  She is to date the only Black member of the Jamestown Town Council.