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tv   American Artifacts Saving Slave Houses Project  CSPAN  November 23, 2017 9:10am-9:51am EST

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ago. but we didn't. and that's what they -- that's their trademark, their gift to the house, is the scottish rose. >> an interview with historian william seale at the white house sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern here on american history tv only on c-span3. since 2011, architect and preservist joe biden e isist jo compiling a data base of places in the united states. it includes documentation, photography, interpretation, and preservation of slave history. up next on "american artifacts," we travel to southern virginia near the north carolina border to visit the former brandon plantation with jobi hill and learn about her saving slave houses project. she's joined by archaeologists and preservationists and a team
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from trimble, inc., who came along to document brand pop plae the brandon plantation with laser scans. >> we're here to do laser scans and documentation of a slave house that is here. this is part of an independent project that i am doing that's called "saving slave houses," which is a data base of all the known slave houses in the united states. it's to act as a central depository of information and documentation of slave houses in the united states. and i have partnered with trimble which is the company that makes the survey equipment that i use to do kind of the highest level of documentation that is available to us today which is 3d laser scanning. important to do this because, one, documentation is a type of
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preservation. you know, slave houses are buildings that are disappearing from the landscape. and so by documenting them, that's one way of preserving them. documenting them and through my data base is also a way to share information and get it out there and learn from them. this is a way for people to learn about the buildings and study them and make them available to a wider audience without having to necessarily come out to the sites. a lot of sites are hard to get to. also a lot of sites are privately owned. so you know, property owners don't necessarily want people, you know, constantly coming out to their sites to look at these structures. the property owners have been very helpful in wanting to work with me. at the same time, you know, it's easier to have something that's available on line somewhere that you can get to.
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in total, i have done survey work at about 150 sites, and about 120 to 130 have been in virginia. i've been focussing in virginia the last couple of years. i found this place through a co-worker and mentor of mine who has -- originally he worked at colonial williamsburg and did documentation through there. now he's an architectural historian and works for a private architectural firm, practice. he knew about the site and told me that it's one that he knew i would want to check out. >> so he's here today. could you tell us what the two of you are going to do? >> yeah, his name is mark winger. this site is special because it has a sub-floor pit. a sub-floor pit is a hole in the ground, and you find them in enslaved spaces. they are in front of the fireplace or hearth. and they were used for -- both as root cellars but also for
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storage of personal items that the enslaved people made had. and they range in size and shape, and there's a wide variety of them. some are wood lined. some are brick lined. some are just, you know, just holes, just dirt. but -- this one is special because this building is raised on piers. this is stone mined. some of it is above the ground because the building is raised on piers. today in addition to 3d laser scanning the building, we are also going to open the pit to protect it, to protect the pit. the floor boards were nailed closed to keep things out of it. we're going to open it back up to look at it and also to scan it. >> that's original. >> that framing is? >> yeah, uh-huh. >> how can you tell? >> the fact that the saw marks
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on this framing go straight up and down. that's a reciprocal water-driven saw. and so that would sort of put it in the 19th century sometime. and they start circular sawing lumber close to the middle of the 19th century. so this would seem to be before that. >> it was built at the time of construction of the -- >> probably. yeah. >> one thing i find interesting about these is that -- the opening's so large. like i mean, i don't know why you might necessarily need such a large opening. like this one looks like it was -- intentional and was constructed at the same time as the building was constructed. so they -- when they built the floor, they framed out to have this hole -- they knew they wanted this hole, this opening, in the floor because they provided framing for it. and underneath of it because the building's on piers and raised
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off the ground, when you look to the edges, there's stone. you can see that it's lined with stone on the outside of it. it's protected from the outside. i can't tell kind of how deep it goes into the ground in in relation to the great outside. yeah. it looks like it goes into the ground a little bit. but yeah, so this is basically a storage -- i mean a big hole that would be used for storage for things. >> do you know where the kitchen would have been? >> no. i mean unless -- unless they were using this space for the kitchen. >> so mark, is this the original flooring? >> all that nailing looks pretty
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convincing. and this floor, it's pine. you know, it has texture. it has wear. it has a lot of wear up by the heart. >> so that has a lot more wear. >> yeah. >> it's the same on the other side. >> uh-huh. >> so this looks like it might be the original floor, yes. so yeah. >> what would be in there? >> i'm guessing primarily like a brood cellar. it would be a cooler space but also maybe personal items they would have had. it's hard to say. it's hard to say without doing archaeology. it's important to do archaeology because then you have a much better understanding of what was in there.
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>> what kind of things have they found in these holes when they have done archaeology? >> we could pass it to an archaeologist. >> personal items, buttons, buckles, beads, fragments of ceramics. lots of evidence they are keeping root vegetables in these root cellars. so yeah, it helps understand the daily lives of these people when we get a chance to excavate these kind of hidden spaces. >> my name is crystal. i run the archaeological field work. >> why are you here today? >> so he invited us to come to the spaces that she is surveying. we really wanted to come to kind of experience the space to feel
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what these cabinets would have been like to walk through to live in, to walk up and down the steps. we often excavate a lot of these spaces once they are not on the landscape anymore. so to be able to be at one that's still standing, it's a different experience. we wanted to be here today for that. >> so when you reflect on what you have seen what are your though thoughts? >> it's a good question. it is really humbling to be in these spaces of these people that were slaves. you know, they were here living and working. they didn't get a break. they weren't paid for their services. so to try to navigate through these spaces in the 21st century, it's humbling. i think aget a better sense of what the room would have felt like.
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obviously there's nothing in it today. it gives me a better idea of what it is that we are looking for that's not on the landscape anymore. i think it's really important to record what's here. one day this building may not be here. i this think it's important to record our past and know what it is that makes us who we are today as a nation and as a people. it is important to remember these people that lived here too. to be able to document the experience and building in which they lived to compare this building with what we have to try to get some understanding of the slave experience across time and across space, i think it really helps inform archaeologists of sites like brandon can really help inform us and across the south and across the east coast. i think it's important to document these spaces for sure.
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>> so this collects gps coordinates. i collected a survey form that has the information i am interested in. it linked to that gps. when you click on that point all of this information i put in comes up to that point. this project started as part of my masters thesis project. i'm an architect and i went back to school to get my degree in historic preservation i realized the type of arcticture i wanted to do is historic preservation.
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when i was in school for my masters thesis i started doing research with the historic american building survey collection which is wpa program that started in 1936 to get architects back to work. so a thousand architects were hired to go out and document historic structures across the united states. part of that documentation was slave houses not necessarily intentionally but they did document slave houses and some times -- a lot of times you got like one photograph or you would see that a slave house in the background of the picture behind the main house. and so for my masters thesis i looked at that collection and identified all of the sites that had a slave house in them. so like the historic american
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buildings survey has 485 sites that have a slave house. i also looked at the wpa slave narratives that were done at the same time in the 1930s just kind of hoping that there would be some relationship between two although there was no coordination between the two projects. they were to get writers back to work and they were doing their own thing, but in my mind i was like there had to be some overlap kind of by chance. i also did research with the slave narratives. so there are about 3500 slave narratives. i went through all of those and identified the ones that described their house during slavery. and i went through those and of those and of the 485 slave
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houses there are five that overlap. so you have five slave nar tos. so you have the words of people describing these spaces. it is amazing. that's the interpretations that we should be using when we interpret these spaces. and so from that that just -- i use the slave narratives to interpret and understand these spaces and like to guide me to what i should be looking for in these spaces and what were they -- how were they using them and can i see any of that in these spaces now that i'm going back to look at. and my field work of going back and doing my own documentation
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started when i was working on my project in school. i was a summer intern. that helped with my research. they asked me, they were like how many of these have you seen? i was like i'm in the archives doing research. they are like you should go out and see some of these. when i was interning we went out and saw some of them. once i started going on some of these i didn't stop. i kept going and knowing that one, i really enjoyed it because seeing these spaces in person is not the same as seeing the pictures. the documentation is amazing. the photographs are amazing. it is completely different to stand inside the space. i kept doing the field work
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because it's exciting. i enjoy it. it also answers a lot of questions for me and others like how many of these buildings still exist. like that's an open question. in order to further the preservation of these buildings we have to be able to answer these questions to get support from others. you have to be able to answer like how many are we looking at? i'm trying to answer that question, how many are still out there or at least provide a case study. so in 1936 there were this many in the state and now there's only this many left. so that's what i'm working on. so yes, to fund this it's -- it's funded by me. i look for grants to do a lot of my survey work and things like that. and usually they are smaller ones. i can make a small grant go a
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long way. >> put this back. >> 3'7". >> 3'7"? >> yeah. >> so this is call add saddle bag partition wall. so there's kind of to two v variations of a saddle bag. primarily it has a chimney and room on either side. it has a back to backfire place. and so this is the plan type. this room we are standing in right now, because of the size of the opening of the fireplace and also the location to the main house and the fact that there's a pit in the other side and maybe this side, we think this might have functioned as a kitchen. the opening of the fireplace is larger on this side, but then it made us question why would like
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a root cellar be on the other side if this space was used as a kitchen. if there is a lot cooking it would have been a lot hotter. the point of the root cellar is to keep thing cool. so they used the other side and this is where a lot of the cooking may have taken place. >> how old do you think this pot is? >> also that metal piece is a crane. i'm guessing that's original. probably the pots are -- wouldn't surprise me if they are probably original too. at least fairly old. yeah, the crane is because that's kind of part of the fireplace. >> and so would people have lived in here? >> absolutely. >> and how would that work? is the upstairs original and they would have slept up there? >> yes. the upstairs is original.
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there are not hearts in the upstairs. a lot of some in the lofts you find fireplace openings chrks is an indicator that people were living up there. this one does not have that, but that does not mean they weren't living up there. they were living up there which is why there is a partition wall and door opening and enclosed staircase. that was living space upstairs. you can never really tell for sure without documentation of, you know, exactly where people were sleeping or how many people were living in these spaces, but for kitchens, those were also always living spaces at least my understanding because kitchens were always used and kind of just the -- what you kind of learn or hear from things is once you lit the hearth in the
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kitchen it never went out. it took so long to light back then to get it running and took so long to do everything it was always running. you always had to have hot water on hand that someone had to be there to watch that fire and also just from the slave nar tos they always talk about their -- if they were the cook or their mother was the cook they always say we lived in the kitchen. my mother lived in the ditkitch and she was the cook. there is also evidence that kich ens were also living spaces. >> and the other room over there? >> without knowing how many people were being fed out of this kitchen it's hard to -- i can't say what was being cooked or how often and how much you needed to be cooking at one time but i'm guessing that was also
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probably like a secondary kitchen or cooking space for them. without all of the modern technology they have today there's no way i could do survey work on my own. that's why i'm very thankful that we have all of this and that i have access to it. even just like the digital like measuring device that i use, you know, i can't hold the end of one tape measure and walk to the other. i use a laser measurer to measure things. so now i'm taking measurements of the room and the doors and the windows. i just finished measuring the fireplace. i'll do this for each of the different spaces in this building and also i take an overall dimension of the building too. and that's part of my digital
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survey noorm i have that is linked to the coordinates. so when i map it all of this comes up. i'm richard and i work at tremble. i have been involved in atlantic slave trade project. she has asked us to come help her document some of the houses in the area. when we laser scan we run our scanner on a tripod and we are take panoramic images and match the colors onto the laser scan.
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it provides 3 dimensional point dloud. we can pull other side of the information out of it. one of the vice presidents is very about africa. he has the ability to help choose which kinds of projects to do. this is one he was very very passionate about. we got together with an organization who documents world heritage sites and using our technology using sites that were important. we hit sites in mississippi, south carolina, the virgin
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islands. we'll continue to do that. building a relationship are educators and academics to find cofunding through different type of grants. we were making sure we have ties to help us get into different international locations and make sure they are of historical interest. in colorado we have been working to tray to add some of this information into their curriculum, which they have successfully done last year. they have some of the impact on education and organization has managed to work with to get the atlantic slave trade or this kind of material into their
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curriculum. >> what kind of crops? >> talking about the 19th sen senchly probably tobacco at this point. that's certainly what it is now. i'm not so familiar with the agricultural history but i would guess tobacco was the mainstay and you would also have grains, wheat and corn in addition to that. those would probably be the three main crops. >> and how many -- is there any way to know how many slaves lived in here? >> i don't know. i'm not sure how many that would be. to have a house of that substance you have to have quite a bit to make that possible.
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so this was a substantial house. >> so i don't know as much about this as i do others. even today to current owner is part of the brandon family but there are other plantations with the same name. there is an upper brandon and lower brandon plantations that are near by. they have been more heavily studied than 24 one. this one has not been as heavily studied or documented. i don't know why that is the case. that's also another reason why i think it's important to document
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these structures. there's not exists dock men stations. that's one of the reasons i'm excited about doing that today. when you come back to sites you always remember you're missing a lot of the buildings. in order to paint a clear picture you have to identify what buildings were missing. here you usually always have like the main house. here we have the main house. this may have been used as a kitchen or living space for slave people. we have a smoke house. you a well. a smoke house and well being next to a building or often next to a kitchen. some buildings are kind of
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clustered together. can i have kitchens rely on those things. they service the main house. at at this site now across the road is our two tobacco barns but look disconnected from it now. in order to get a good picture and understand how people would have been moving around the site and where the farm would have been you have to know where all of those would have been. i don't know where that would have been for this plantation. it has been divided. it is cutting through a lot of the spaces now. we are not there historically. it is hard to paint a good picture of what it would have
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been like. we don't know how many people were even here. without knowing that it's hard to be able to really say i can paint an accurate picture. that's what people always want to know. a lot of times, you know, these spaces were more heavily populated than what we think of today, mother, father and like two to three children. like that's not what it was like historically in slave families like the families were larger and they had more children. families were bigger back then. so if it was even like a single family or multi-family housing there were usually more people living in it. so it's just kind of automatically a different picture. i just don't know how many people were here. so it's hard to kind of paint
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that picture. >> and status of it now? >> the status of it now is -- it's just -- i guess you could say it's stabilized but no one is living -- the main house is not used on a regular basis. it is used when i think the family comes out to do some hunting in the area, but no one is living in this structure. i don't know when the last time people were living in the structure and using the structure. i am happy to say it is not being used for storage. a lot of places the out buildings are used just for storage but of furniture and big things that kind of clutter the space. when that happens it accelerates the deterioration. when you clutter that's when animals and rodents live in
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there. it invites them in and then that's what starts to accelerate def deteriorati deterioration. you have cobwebs and other things like that but otherwise it's in really good shape. i think it's really helped preserve the shape is the fact that there's no clutter in it. >> so this is a long day's work and it's hot out here. when this is all done what would this look like as far as your records go? >> we'll have lots of photographs. there will be -- i'll have coordinates. there will be data that needs to be processed. a lot of data that needs to be processed and then it can then be kind of exported into different types of final produc
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products. it really kind of buries in kind of what we kind of need and want. your 3d models would be generated with those 3d models. we can get different versions. these buildings and the people that lived and worked in these buildings are a very important part of our history. i think it's important to tell their story truthfully. one way of doing that is through the architecture. the architecture is part of the material culture that still survives today that you can visit and you can experience and it's kind of a vehicle to tell their story. that's how i'm using the architecture, but it's also -- the work is also important because like when i kind of started doing this research i found that there is information about the structures and these
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people but it's kind of everywhere and there's little bits of it everywhere. i have taken a lot of time to compile it and kind of get it in one place and also to make it digital. it's taken me a long time to do this. i would like to be able to share it with others. not everyone has to go back and do the same thing i'm going because it's taken me so long to do it that i want others to benefit and have access to it so they can then like move forward and do research with it and then, you know, produce meaningful research studies from it and not have to spend a lot of time doing the research that i'm doing. it love it. i enjoy doing it but it does take a lot of time and energy to do. every site i go to i learn something new. i have met a lot of great people doing this. visiting these structures and
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being inside of them is a lot different than seeing a picture of them. i'm also for the private properties that i'm going to, recently -- i mean i've always discovered like interesting things about the buildings. property owners are opening up to me and sharing things that they have with me. so for example i just went to a site and the man there has coverlets or blankets from two of them from an enslaved woman. they in really good condition. they are just amazing to see. when i was there he showed them to me. i never would have known about them unless i went out to the site and spent the time with the property owner and talked to him. that's why he shared them with me. that's amazing.
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so they are not any where i would have known about publicly. they have sitting in someone's private home. that's truly amazing. i'm beginning to see things that private property owners have and are willing to share with me. >> you can learn more about her project at her web site, savi you can learn more at at 11:30 a.m. the at the national constitution center. john kerry receiving a lifetime achievement award at the edward m. kennedy in boston. new york times columnist david
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brooks and ronald white discuss character and the presidency. the southern festival of books at 2:30 p.m. ton former heavyweight champion of the world. at 3:10 p.m. and eric sps son on his book before you wake, life lessons from a father to his children. at 9:50 a.m. eastern on the presidency, the life and times of president roosevelt. native americans and trade in 19th century california then at 2:55 p.m. eastern from national archives a look at the first motion picture units world war ii films. that thanksgiving day on the c-span networks. american history tv is on c-span featuring a kooifl films
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and programs on the presidency, the civil war and more. here is a clip from a recent program. well, chrisco is a funny story. remember we talked about butter and this idea that there was a conflict between people that were producing butter and people that were making vegetable oil and high droj nating it and turning it into solid fats. remember that? the crisco company was founded by two guys. they were brothers-in-law and they were actually candle makers. their company was all about wax. they were making candles. they eventually made soap which was kind of another extension of that same technology then they discovered they could do
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hydrogenation of oils. the thing that they decided was in order to market the crisco they would use science and technology in a really big way. they not only, you know, were marketing this product as being healthy for you, healthier than butter but they were in this idea that it was made in a very clean environment. they used a very pure white product. it is clean. all of their factories were very clean. they had people in white uniforms that were making the product and they advertised it very heavily as being high-technology. it was advertised as being not absorbed as well as butter from your body, more digestible than
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butter or lard. the other thing that they did that was really smart is they started to take advantage of what was going on at universities. remember we talked about home economics and experimentation getting out to the public? the crisco company hired those that would go out and give presentations, cooking demonstrations. here is how you use crisco. here is the kind of foods you can make. they got all kinds of people to convert to this new technology, to use this new product. it was a very clever advertising approach to take science and some of the new technologies and
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hydrogenation and factories that was going on and couple it with home economics and experimentation and learning and taking that out to the public. how this was marketed. you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that's next on the presidency, joe wiegand gives life to theodore roosevelt in a portrayal. he recounts the 26th president's life and times, including his unexpected ascension to the white house after william mckinley's assassination. this is just over an hour. i am john elliff, president of the lincoln group of the district of columbia. the


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