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Navigating Liberty’s Promise: Black Women in Washington, DC and the End of Slavery

Nineteenth-century Washington, DC was home to thousands of enslaved people, as well as a hotbed of abolitionist activism. Black women were subject to incredible levels of legal and social restriction, but found ways to make their own lives within that world. Historian Tamika Nunley’s latest book, At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, DC, examines the lives of some of those women – some free, some fugitive, and some enslaved – and the ways that they were able to navigate the changes the 19th century would bring.

The Kluge Center’s Janna Deitz will interview Nunley on At The Threshold of Liberty in a public event on April 7, 2022. Free registration is available here. The event can be viewed virtually, or in person at the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Room LJ-119, on April 7, 2022 at 4pm.

The abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia occurred on April 16, 1862 and is observed each year as DC Emancipation Day. This event will commemorate DC Emancipation Day and highlight the Library’s resources supporting scholarship on DC history. Nunley consulted Library collections for this research, including the American Colonization Society papers, the Myrtilla Miner papers, and the Michael Shiner papers.

At The Threshold of Liberty is part of the John Hope Franklin Series, named for the prolific and highly distinguished historian who was awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity in 2006.

Tamika Nunley is Associate Professor of History at Cornell, specializing in the history of slavery, African American women’s and gender history, the early Republic and the Civil War.  At the Threshold of Liberty was named the 2021 Letitia Woods Brown Book prize winner for best book in African American women’s history and has been shortlisted for the Museum of African American History (MAAH) Stone Book Award. Her research has been supported by the Andrew Mellon and Woodrow Wilson foundations, the American Association of University Women and the Bright Institute.  A member of the Association of Black Women Historians, Nunley serves on the editorial board of Civil War History and on committees of the Society of Civil War Historians and the Southern Historical Association.  Her next book, The Demands of Justice: Enslaved Women, Capital Crime, and Clemency in Early Virginia, 1662-1865 is forthcoming by the University of North Carolina Press.

Steve Swayne Joins John W. Kluge Center as Chair in Modern Culture

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Swayne as Chair in Modern Culture. Swayne, who began his residency in March, is working with the Library’s David Diamond Collection to produce a book on the life and work of the influential 20th century American composer. […]

Kluge Center Welcomes Elizabeth Currid-Halkett into Residence

Kluge Center Welcomes Elizabeth Currid-Halkett into Residence USC Price School of Public Policy Professor Elizabeth Currid-Halkett has been appointed as the Kluge Chair in Modern Culture at the John W. Kluge Center. She will begin her term in June 2022. This appointment is awarded to a scholar of significant accomplishment in modern arts and media […]

Celebrating Black History Month at the John W. Kluge Center

The John W. Kluge Center has had the privilege of hosting many scholars of Black history, who have shared their expertise with the public in events, blog posts, and podcasts. As Black History Month 2022 comes to a close, we are taking the opportunity to highlight opportunities to learn about Black history from our recent […]

Announcing a Single Consolidated Deadline for Our Endowed Fellowship Programs

The Kluge Center is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for our endowed fellowship programs at the Library of Congress. The Center offers residential fellowships to scholars and thought leaders to make use of the Library’s vast collections and digital resources. This year, four of our programs will have a new consolidated […]

The Mexican Revolution and its Lasting Legacy on American Art and Culture

This is a guest post by Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado. He is Professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Film and Media Studies and Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. He plans to be in residence at the Kluge Center during the summer of 2021 […]

Did the Earliest Printers Know What Print Was? What a 15th Century Book from the Netherlands Can Tell Us About Culture and Innovation

This is a guest post by Kluge Fellow Anna Dlabacova, Assistant Professor and postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University. She is researching a project titled “Inspiring, Innovative, and Influential: The Role of Gerard Leeu’s Incunabula in Late Medieval Spirituality and Devotional Practice.” She hopes to advance study on the role that incunabula from the Netherlands played […]

Highlighting Kluge Scholars: An Interview With Armando Chávez-Rivera

This is another post in our series “Highlighting Kluge Scholars.” Armando Chávez-Rivera is Associate Professor and Director of the Spanish Program at the University of Houston-Victoria, Texas, and a Scholar in Residence at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He earned a master’s degree in Hispanic Lexicography at the Royal Spanish Academy and […]

Kluge Center Welcomes Rolena Adorno, Maya Jasanoff, and Melvin L. Rogers

The John W. Kluge Center is pleased to announce the arrival of three new scholars in residence at the Library of Congress. Rolena Adorno was appointed as Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South. Adorno is Sterling Professor of Spanish at Yale University and the author of Colonial Latin American LIterature: A Very […]

Staff Fellow Mark Horowitz’s Book Released in Paperback

Library of Congress Staff Fellow Mark Horowitz is spending his time at the Kluge Center studying the Oscar Hammerstein Jr. correspondence, but his knowledge of the giants of musical theater extends beyond Hammerstein. In Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions (2003) a co-publication with the Library of Congress, Horowitz collected several interviews he […]