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Collective Storytelling Grants

African American Field Schools Program

Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2024-2025

The Slave House Exploration and Evidence Tracing Field School (SHEET) is an initiative of Saving Slave Houses’ Pharsalia Plantation Co-Stewardship Project which is a unique project that encourages and facilitates stewardship and partnership-building relationships between descendants of enslaved communities and descendants of enslaver families from Pharsalia Plantation in Nelson County, Virginia. A multigenerational group of community and descendant participants and student field school interns will explore the intersections between the built environment, history, humanities, community, and storytelling. The site will be studied and documented through four lenses: people, landscape, details, and archaeology. Participants and interns will also learn about the importance of oral histories as a form documentation and interpretation.

Through partnerships with programs, organizations, and companies that have significant impact on how history is documented, communicated, distributed, and understood (e.g., Historic American Buildings Survey, Trimble, and History Before Us), participants and interns will learn the skills necessary to use data they collect both from the field and their own research as effective storytelling tools – ones that engage and challenge the next generation of historians.

The Core Team members of SHEET (Jobie Hill, Star Reams, Nina Polley, and Frederick Murphy) represent a strong knowledge base and multi-discipline training in the fields of architecture, anthropology, oral histories, archaeology, historic preservation, storytelling, and African American history. Together, they formulate insightful, representative and evidence-based interpretations through broad, inclusive knowledge.

Slave House Exploration and Evidence Tracing Field School (SHEET)

James Marston Fitch Mid-Career Fellowship

James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, 2021

Silenced Voices is a short film documenting and describing the process and results of collaborative storytelling at a site of slavery. Descendants from both the enslaved communities and the enslaver’s family from Pharsalia Plantation came together, as Pharsalia descendants, for a week-long workshop exploring shared stewardship and concluding with a round table discussion. The film demonstrates what collective storytelling at a site of slavery can look like when all the stakeholders are committed to moving the narrative forward by presenting authentic and truthful accounts of slavery. Silenced Voices brought together Pharsalia descendants to share their ideas in an open, safe, and welcoming environment. Everyone had a voice; everyone’s voice was heard; and most importantly there was the shared understanding that people require different methods and amounts of time to process difficult truths.

2021 Fitch Mid-Career Fellow

Survey Grants

Orlando Ridout V. Fieldwork Fellowship

Vernacular Architecture Forum, 2017

I was awarded the Orlando Ridout V. Fieldwork Fellowship for my 2017 survey season. With this award I was able to complete fieldwork at 8 sites in Virginia. At the end of my 2017 season I successfully completed fieldwork at 36 sites with a HABS-documented slave house, and 13 sites with previously undocumented slave houses, making 49 total sites surveyed.

VAF Ridout Fellowship Website

Preservation Pitch

Preservation Virginia, 2015

In October of 2015 I won the Preservation Pitch contest put on by Preservation Virginia. The award for the contest was $2,000. I used this money for my 2016 survey season which focused on Virginia slave houses. My goal was to survey 30 sites in 5 months. At the end of my survey season I surpassed my goal and surveyed 37 sites in 4 months.

Preservation Pitch Website

Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant

New York City Center for Architecture Foundation, 2014

In 2014 I was awarded the Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant from the Center for Architecture Foundation in New York City. This grant and the support of other sponsors allowed me to continue my research of the dwellings of American slavery for seven months. At the end of my 2014 Survey Season I surveyed 37 sites and 180 buildings.

Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant Website

Research Grants

Fellowship in African and African American History and Culture

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017

For four years in a row (2014 – 2017) I was awarded the Fellowship in African and African American History and Culture from the National Endowment for the Humanities We the People Grant and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF). For my fellowships I worked with the Architectural Historians to digitize the entire Agricultural Buildings Project collection. I scanned over 5,000 measured drawings, fieldnotes, photographs and written reports. These scanned files are extremely valuable because the majority of them represent unpublished documents. CWF has surveyed over 700 sites in the United States. Of these over 200 sites have a domestic slave building.

CWF Grants Website