Meredith B. Linn will give a Work-in-Progress talk on Thursday, January 18, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Seneca Village: The Making and Unmaking of a Distinctive 19th-Century Place on the Periphery of New York City.”

In the late 1820s and in the shadow of emancipation in New York State, several African Americans purchased land in what is now Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Pushed by racial oppression and unsanitary conditions downtown and pulled by the prospects of a healthier, freer life and property ownership, they were joined by other members of the African diaspora (as well as some Irish and German immigrants) and built an important community, likely active in the abolitionist movement. The city removed the villagers from their land in 1857 by right of eminent domain to construct Central Park. This talk presents some of the results of recent excavations and new historical research that have provided greater insight into how residents created this unique community, through traditional practices of landscape manipulation, use of material culture, and social activities. The city’s removal of the villagers and efforts to track down where residents settled afterwards will also be discussed.

Meredith B. Linn is an Assistant Professor at Bard Graduate Center. She is interested in how and what material objects can tell us about the lived experiences of people neglected or misrepresented in written records. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century New York City.