Jennifer Scott, Movement Creates Museum: the Activist Beginnings of the Weeksville Heritage Center, April 25

Columbia Center for Oral History, the Oral History Master of Arts, The MA in Museum Anthropology, and the Institute for Research in African American Studies Present:

Movement Creates Museum: the Activist Beginnings of Weeksville Heritage Center


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WHO: Jennifer Scott is an Anthropologist, Public Historian, and Curator. She serves as the Vice Director/Director of Research at Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic house museum specializing in innovative study and applications of history, culture, the arts and civic engagement. An oral historian, she spearheads Weeksville’s oral history project, conducts oral history workshops, and has served on oral history advisory boards, including StoryCorps Griot. Before Weeksville, Jennifer worked with City Lore’s Place Matters Project on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan to document place-based stories and develop new “placemaking” approaches and strategies. She teaches courses in cultural anthropology/ethnology, material culture, world heritage, and museum studies at The New School, Parsons, and Pratt Institute and is a contributor to a number of publications, including, most recently, The Radical Museum: democracy, dialogue & debate (2011). Jennifer holds degrees from Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Michigan. 

WHEN: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 6:00-8:00pm.

WHERE: 602 Northwest Corner Building, corner of 120th and Broadway.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP:  Jennifer Scott will be discussing the role and possibilities of oral history for understanding activism and social change in the founding and expansion of a public history center. Weeksville Heritage Center’s (WHC) oral history program began in the 1970s alongside the rediscovery and reclamation of a “lost” history. Founded in 1972 in Brooklyn, WHC currently consists of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses, three nineteenth century wood-frame residential structures that have been restored and opened to the public. Through research, tours, exhibitions and programs, WHC interprets the forgotten history of Weeksville, a free black, intentional, land-owning community, which established its own schools, churches, anti-slavery organizations, and operated as a safe space for African Americans in the greater New York area throughout the 19th century. The current historic house museum is a direct result of more than a generation of community activism begun in the late 1960s to recover and restore a history that very few people knew or cared about. This presentation highlights the role of oral history in the forty-year fight to preserve and sustain the historic houses and to bring this history to its rightful place. Scott will highlight WHC’s interpretive approach to oral history work that not only documents the past and reveals formative community networks and connections, but also continues to support neighborhood history, community building, and social relevancy.

SPONSORS: This talk is part of the “Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series,” co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH),the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA), the MA in Museum Anthropology, and the Institute for Research in African American Studies. Support from the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is provided for programming that embodies late Professor Paul Lazarsfeld’s commitment to improving methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.


INFORMATION: For more information, please email Terrell Frazier