Altars honoring Enslaved Women


We are using this space to think about the altar-like spaces we might develop to honor three enslaved women of the 18th century, connected in one way or another with the history of Harvard College.

Possible general elements. To evoke Senegambian and Ewe/Akan altars of the early 18th century. Upright branches, ceramic bowls, white chalk, horns, shells. African cloth. (Yoruba: Blue and white colors to evoke Yemoja and the Altantic Ocean?) For Kongo influenced elements, we consider reflective forms, such as mirrors, polished pans or plates,f eathers, jars, pots, bracelets. or glass bottles, perhaps tied to the branches;

Belinda Royall altar: Include her 1783 petition to the General Court.

Venus altar: (purchased in 1726 by President Benjamin Wadsworth, and referred to as "a Negro wench, thought to be about twenty years of age"): Copy of the relevant diary page by Benjamin Wadsworth; images of Wadsworth House; copy of Venus' 1840 baptismal record from the Church of Christ in Cambridge.

Phillis Wheatley altar: Include: Her poem, "To the University of Cambridge in New England" Copies of letter by Timothy Fitch to the Captain of the schooner Phillis, giving instructions on the purchasing of slaves along the West African coast. Christian symbols?