Who was Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and why do her life, literary works, and political contributions resonate in the modern United States? In this episode, learn about the remarkable achievements of Alice Dunbar-Nelson with Yolanda Wisher, a two-time Philadelphia Poet Laureate, performing artist, and Rosenbach Board of Directors member.
Many of the events of Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s life feel relevant to the politics and culture of the 21st-century United States, including her experience of police brutality. In this episode, “I Am an American!” co-curator, librarian, and professor Jesse R. Erickson explores Dunbar-Nelson’s struggle for justice against a white police officer who brutalized her at the U.S. Capitol and considers the incident’s connections to the Black Lives Matter movement of today.
In the 21st century, Alice Dunbar-Nelson enjoys a reputation as an icon of LGBTQIA+ history. “I Am an American!” co-curator Monet Timmons discusses Dunbar-Nelson’s same-gender romantic relationships, her significance to queer heritage, and the tools scholars use to unlock LGBTQIA+ voices in history. Timmons, a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Delaware, has conducted in-depth research into Dunbar-Nelson’s life and relationships and shares personal stories of encountering Alice Dunbar-Nelson in the archive.
Can archiving historical materials be an activist enterprise? How do the stories of queer people get preserved for future generations to study and appreciate? In this episode, John Anderies and Ainsley Wynn Eakins of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way Community Center in Philadelphia discuss the institution’s work to preserve LGBTQIA+ history and make queer culture visible in our world—both today and tomorrow.
Changing the culture of museums to tell broad and inclusive narratives of history is a monumental task. Vashti DuBois, founder of The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, is a nationally recognized thought leader in museum interpretation whose work offers innovative directions toward a more inclusive future for museums. In this episode, DuBois discusses the origins of The Colored Girls Museum, the interpretive approaches used at the site, and what Alice Dunbar-Nelson might have to say to us if she were alive in 2020.
To uncover stories from U.S. history like those of Alice Dunbar-Nelson requires deep research. Learn tips about the research process from three scholars with in-depth experience using archives to uncover Black and women’s history. This roundtable conversation features tips and insights from Melissa Benbow, a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Delaware; Kelli Racine Coles, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Delaware; and Mariam I. Williams, Project Director of Chronicling Resistance at the Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson survived intimate partner violence at the hands of her famous husband, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and went on to make important contributions to U.S. politics, literature, and culture. This episode examines the public health crisis of intimate partner violence in the United States today and offers resources for individuals struggling with intimate partner violence to find help, survive, and thrive—just as Alice Dunbar-Nelson did. To learn more about Women Against Abuse, visit https://www.womenagainstabuse.org/. To learn more about
Women In Transition, visit https://www.helpwomen.org/.
The Rosenbach’s work on the “I Am an American!” digital exhibition brought together a large group of scholars, professionals, artists, activists, and community members to collaborate on telling the story of Alice Dunbar-Nelson to 21st-century Americans. In this concluding episode of Voices of Change, join key figures in the exhibition’s development for a retrospective conversation about their favorite memories and most important insights drawn from working on this digital project.