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Fire & Freedom: Food & Enslavement in Early America

As the introduction to this National Library of Medicine online exhibit notes, "[m]eals can tell us how power is exchanged between and among different peoples, races, genders, and classes." In this five-part exhibit, visitors can learn more about how food was grown, traded, and cooked in early eighteenth century North America. Through a variety of artifacts (including an eighteenth-century rolling pin, a couple of pages from Charles Carter's 1732 The Compleat City and Country Cook, and Gilbert Stuart's portrait that likely portrays George Washington's enslaved cook Hercules) this exhibit examines the ways in which food and the violence of slavery were closely intertwined. While white plantation owners relied on the expertise and labor of enslaved individuals in order to eat, "[s]lavery put in place social and culinary boundaries that could separate those who ate from those who worked." This exhibit is accompanied by a number of educational resources for K-12 and higher education instructors.
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