Every now and then an heretofore unknown document will surface and demand the attention of an historian and or archivist. Former North Carolina native enslaved person’s memoirs/ narratives are just the type of rare document that both takes your breath away and immediately calls for your undivided consideration.
An English librarian from Oldham, England, while working on an exhibit about Oldham and slavery came across “The Life of the late James Johnson.” The librarian sent a two paragraph abstract of Johnson’s story and asked if the State Archives of North Carolina could verify any of the facts in the abstract. Realizing the importance of the memoir, I was granted permission to try and answer the librarian’s question.
What ensued was a thrilling (!) game of cat and mouse where Johnson’s details and memory were checked against records at the Archives and various online databases and I, Chris Meekins, collaborated with librarians, archivists and renown NC historian David Cecelski.
Drop in the Maritime Museum in Southport on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 to learn more about Johnson and our quest to learn more about him.
See you there! Chris