Season 2, Episode 1: The Alchemy of Slavery (Dr. Scott Heerman)

Dr. Will Fenton speaks with Dr. Scott Heerman, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Miami. During his NEH postdoctoral fellowship (2018-19), Dr. Heerman made use of the African American history collections to pursue his interest in slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic. In this episode, Dr. Heerman discusses his first book, The Alchemy of Slavery: Human Bondage and Emancipation in the Illinois Country, 1730-1865 (2018), which traces how slavery in French, Spanish, and Native North America shaped the legal processes of emancipation in the nineteenth century United States. By focusing on the nation’s interior—Illinois, specifically—Dr. Heerman tells a nuanced story about the resilience of servitude far from the eastern seaboard, where other scholars tend to focus their studies.

Fenton and Heerman began their conversation by examining this map contained in the Case of the Vigilante, a Ship Employed in the Slave-trade (London, 1823).

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Case of the Vigilante, a Ship Employed in the Slave-trade (London, 1823). Ii Case 53434.O .1

Case of the Vigilante, a Ship Employed in the Slave-trade (London, 1823). Ii Case 53434.O .1.

Talking in the Library will serve as an audio platform for researchers to share the incredible work they’re pursuing using the rich collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Talking in the Library is hosted by Will Fenton, the Director of Scholarly Innovation, and produced by Ann McShane, the Digital Collections Archivist at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Logo design by Nicole Graham. Theme music by Krestovsky (“Terrible Art”).

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