Chatham Bookstore Hosts Authors on Slavery in the Hudson Valley

(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – Authors Susan Stessin-Cohn and Ashley Hurlburt-Biagini will read from and discuss their new book, “In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831,” at the Chatham Bookstore on Sunday, March 5, from 2 to 4pm. A conversation with Thomas Chulak from the bookstore and Q & A follow a brief reading.

The coauthors conducted extensive research into newspaper advertisements from across the Hudson River Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, “In Defiance” documents 607 fugitives from slavery through the reproduction and transcription of archival newspaper notices for runaway slaves placed by their enslavers or agents. Examples of notices are those advertising slaves captured, advertising slaves for sale, and offering to purchase slaves. Also included are a glossary, illustrations, and maps. A.J. Williams-Myers, Black Studies Department, SUNY at New Paltz, wrote the foreword.

Published by Black Dome Press, the book is “a valuable collection of fugitive slave advertisements that tells much about the lives of self-emancipated blacks in the rural North. Focusing on the Hudson River Valley, the editors uncover a persistent, local slavery, with national implications.” – G.R.G. Hodges, Colgate University.

“Humanizing an otherwise largely silent population, advertisements for fugitive slaves provide an exceptionally valuable window into black life in Early America from the nature of the slave system and the master-slave relationship to fascinating glimpses into material culture and folk life…. readers get to know runaways as real people whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness hastened the demise of slavery in New York…. An extraordinary achievement.” –Michael E. Groth, Ph.D., Professor of History, Wells College

Susan Stessin-Cohn, former professor of social studies education at SUNY New Paltz and Director of Education at Historic Huguenot Street, is currently the Historian for the Town of New Paltz, N.Y. Recognized for her work in historical research, she is also an award-winning quilter.

Ashley Hurlburt-Biagini is the former Manager of Collections and Archives at Historic Huguenot Street where, among her varied duties, she has led student field schools in archaeology. She is an avid gardener, grows and sells garlic, teaches home food preservation classes, and currently lives in Salisbury Mills.

Read an interview with the authors by the Associated Press.

The Chatham Bookstore is located at 27 Main Street in Chatham, NY. For more information, call 518-392-3005.





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