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Lela Sewell-Williams presents about Charlotte Vandine Forten at a Members Lunch and Learn event.

Highlighting photographs and artifacts related to Charlotte Vandine Forten and her contemporaries on display in the Museum's Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia special exhibition, Lela J. Sewell-Williams and Rebecca Shipman from the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University joined the Museum to reflect on preserving the legacies of African American women in the archives and discuss how they implement preservation techniques as tools of accountability that protect these historical narratives for future generations to learn from visual and material culture.

This discussion was part of a Black Founders-inspired Lunch & Learn event that was exclusive to Museum Members on June 3, 2023.

About Lela J. Sewell-Williams

Headshot of Howard University curator Lela J Sewell Williams

Lela J. Sewell-Williams, Curator of the Manuscript Division within Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) at Howard University, has a vested interest in the preservation of the history and culture of those of African descent having served within the archives field for over 25 years. Previous to her recent return to Moorland-Spingarn, having held the role of Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, 2001-2005, she served as the Manager of the Columbia Maryland Archives. During her career, Sewell Williams has experienced various privileges including becoming the first University Archivist at her alma mater South Carolina State University, initiating the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Hip-Hop Archive Project and Moorland-Spingarn’s Black Regional Dance Archives, and founding an archival consulting firm, Preserve Your Story. However, one privilege she holds very dear is the 2011 board appointment to serve as the International Association of Blacks in Dance archivist, an honor she still maintains.

About Rebecca Shipman

Headshot of Howard University grad student Rebecca Shipman

Rebecca Shipman graduated from Howard University with a BFA in Art History in 2023. In the past, Shipman has worked with GANGGANG, a non-profit focusing on the visibility of Black artists in the Midwest and equity in the arts at large. For the past two years, Shipman has worked at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in the museum and in the manuscripts departments. Shipman is the 2022-23 Terra Curatorial Fellow at the Phillips Collection where she conducts research on underrepresented artists in American Modernism. Shipman will be continuing her education working toward an MLIS at Syracuse University in the fall. 

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A father holds his child as they look at the Forten family tree in the Museum's Black Founders exhibit.

Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia

February 11 - November 26, 2023
Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia explored the story of James Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to later become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War.
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A museum curator places a photograph of Charlotte Vandine Forten in its case for display in Black Founders.
Black Founders

Forten Family Artifacts on Loan from Howard University in Black Founders Exhibit

Take a closer look at the Forten family artifacts that the Howard University Moorland-Spingarn Research Center loaned to the Museum for our special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia.
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Image 090420 Museum Galleries Photo Credit Jeff Fusco 2
Jeff Fusco 

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