Several years ago, approximately 2,000 pages of family papers were discovered in the attic of a house near Chestertown before its scheduled demolition. Community members and several generous donors made it possible for these papers to be rescued and preserved. Approximately 100 of the papers document aspects of local African American life from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. These original manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries unlock a slice of local history that centers on people whose descendants still live in this area. This part of the collection was named the Commodore Collection in honor of Norris Commodore and his family, who have deep roots in Kent County. The Norris family was one of the key donors who enabled the collection to be saved. The Commodore Collection belongs to Sumner Hall and is being conserved and archived at Washington College’s Miller Library.
As part of the process of preserving the Commodore Collection, multiple organizations have collaborated to also make this piece of history accessible to the public through digitization and the creation of a variety of teaching and exploration tools.
On Saturday, November 4, please join us at Kent County Public Library for a revealing of history at its finest and its most tragic.
Author and Washington College professor Michelle Johnson will share the story of her new book, A Man’s Mark, illustrated by local artists, Samuel Moore and Stuart Gray, which was inspired by a document from the Commodore Collection.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to explore a customized Teacher Trunk, which is available for use in local classrooms, and learn about the companion exhibit that is being created to showcase the Commodore Collection and its importance to local history.
Revealing the Commodore Collection
Saturday, November 4 | 11am
Kent County Public Library
408 High Street, Chestertown