News Archive, 2004
December 20, 2004
HARRIET WILSON PROJECT CALL FOR PAPERS
The Harriet Wilson Project invites submissions for a collection
of essays about the history, region, and work of the path-breaking
Last spring, the project launched a series of events honoring Wilson
with a keynote address by Henry Louis Gates Jr., who rediscovered
Wilson's Our Nig in 1983. The project subsequently hosted three
separate panel discussions across New Hampshire, Wilson's home
state, investigating the significance of her work from various
The project is looking for essays to augment the work of the
historians, literary critics, social scientists, and others who
participated in the spring panel discussions. Since the novel's
rediscovery, scholars have engaged in a lively and ongoing
conversation about its historical significance with respect to
issues of class and poverty in the north and slavery in the south;
its generic innovations as a bridge between the slave narrative and
the ascendant genre of domestic fiction; and its relative place in
the unstable canons of African American and American literature, to
name only a few of the strains of this continuing exchange. This
collection of essays draws together this rich reservoir of academic
insight with an upswelling of community interest in claiming Wilson
as a Northern New England writer and forbear.
The volume will include a section on matters of region, on
readings of Our Nig, and a section on personal and/or professional
reflections about the significance of Wilson's novel. It thus
bridges the academy and the common reader to further our ongoing
understanding of this seemingly modest work, the compelling and
still mysterious woman who wrote it, and the cultural complexity of
the region from which she hailed.
The deadline for submissions of up to 25 pages is June 1, 2005. Send
inquiries and submissions to:
Eve Allegra Raimon
Faculty Chair and Associate Professor
Arts and Humanities
University of Southern Maine
Lewiston, ME 04240
The Harriet Wilson Project cordially invites you to meet,
photograph and interview internationally renown sculptor, Fern
Cunningham, who was overwhelmingly selected by a panel of
Project judges to create the memorial statue of Harriet E.
Wilson, Milford's pre-Civil War author of Our Nig; or Sketches
from the Life of A Free Black.
Ms. Cunningham will be touring the approved future site of her
representational sculpture, Bicentennial Park, on Union Street
in Milford at 3:30 PM on Saturday, October 30th. Accompanying
Fern on the walking tour will be members of the Harriet Wilson
Project, the site's landscape designer Claudia Everett of
Northland Design, and her assistant Erika Reed, a Milford
Boston Globe Interviews Harriet Wilson Project Members
Reprinted from The Boston Globe
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Exploring racism in the mid-1800s
Panel seeks statue of historic author
By James Vaznis, Globe Staff, 2/26/2004
"Why was I made? Why can't I die? Oh, what have I to live for?
No one cares for me only to get my work. And I feel sick; who
cares for that? Work as long as I can stand, and then fall down
and lay there till I can get up. No mother, father, brother or
sister to care for me, and then it is, You lazy nigger, lazy
nigger -- all because I am black! Oh, if I could die!"
Earn CEU's for Attending the Harriet Wilson Project Keynote
The New Hampshire Humanities Council (NHHC), in conjunction with
The Harriet Wilson Project, is pleased to invite the public and
New Hampshire's teachers to attend a keynote address and a
series of panel discussions that will explore Wilson's novel,
Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of A Free Black, and the
points of view held by various scholars on the themes prevalent
in Wilson's work – women, race, poverty, and class in 19 th
century New England.
NHHC will offer continuing education units (CEU) for the keynote
address and series of discussions. Participants can earn a
maximum of 7 CEU's through this series by attending the keynote
address and three panel discussions. Certificates will be handed
out at the conclusion of each of the four sessions. Prospective
participants can register to earn one CEU per educational hour
by calling (603) 654-2186 before April 26.
About the Events
"Black Author to be Honored"
Reprinted from The Cabinet
Thursday, February 12, 2004
By Peggy Miller
Harriet Wilson, the nation's first black published author, will
be honored with a bronze life-sized statue at either Emerson
Park or the Bicentennial Park in Milford . Selectmen will be
looking at each site and deciding which one works the best.
Wilson is the author of the mid 19th century autobiographical
novel Our Nig. In her internationally acclaimed novel, she told
a sad tale of life growing up as a black indentured servant in
The Harriet Wilson Project was formed recently to draw attention
to the author, her life and her book and members of the group
have been leading book discussions at area schools. One of the
project's aims was to convince officials to erect a statue
honoring the author.
Members of that organization, including JerriAnne Boggis, the
executive director, and Gloria Henry, a board member, asked the
Milford selectmen Monday night if the statue could be located
either at Emerson Park , which is next to the Milford Post
Office, or at the Bicentennial Park on South Street.
They brought pictures of other bronze statues to which they hope
the one of Wilson might be similar, though Boggis said that
since no one knows what Wilson looked like, the statue would try
to capture her essence instead of being lifelike.
"We want it to contain a life-size element ... and maybe have
the wind blowing through it," said Boggis. She said that her
organization was holding a national competition and intends to
commission a quality artistic work.
By Peggy Miller
A bronze statue in memory of Harriet Wilson, the Milford author
of the 1859 book Our Nig will be built in Bicentennial Park.
Selectmen decided Monday night that they preferred Bicentennial,
which is on South Street , to Emerson Park , with the agreement
of the board members of the Harriet Wilson project. They also
discussed the possibilities of improving the park entrance and
including other statues of historical events.
"The Bicentennial Park could be looked on as a display of
different things in our history, Harriet Wilson being one of
them", said Gary Daniels, selectman.
The vote to accept the statue was unanimous, and Selectman
Noreen O'Connell said that there are grants available to improve
the parkšs entrance. "There should be an overall plan for the
whole project to have a cohesion there," said O'Connell.
JerriAnne Boggis, president and executive director of the
Harriet Wilson Project, which has been holding book discussions
in the schools to bring attention to the autobiographical novel,
said she was pleased at the decision.
"We are honored that we will have this opportunity to have this
monument in Milford that represents Harriet's spirit," said
Boggis. The kick off for the national competition for a sculptor
will be on May 2, she said, when Henry Louis Gates is scheduled
to give a speech in Milford . The Harvard black studies
professor discovered the novel in 1983 and helped
bring it to its current prominence.
Boggis said fundraising for the statue as well as the start to
the collection of artists' proposals will begin in May, and the
deadline for the proposals is Sept. 1.
First Edition Printing of 'Our Nig' Viewed
Board members of The Harriet Wilson Project visited the Boston
Public Library recently to view a first edition printing of Our
Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black. The first
edition is part of the rare book collection of the library.
Harriet Wilson Project Director, JerriAnne Boggis holding first
edition printing of Our Nig
'Our Nig' Grant
Reprinted from The CABINET
Thursday, July3, 2003 Page 9
"MILFORD-The Harriet Wilson Project has received a New Hampshire
Humanities Council grant to hold three book discussions about
the 19th century Milford author at the Wilton, Hollis and
Amherst libraries. Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard black history
professor who resurrected the novel in the early 1980s, is
expected to attend the one in Milford next April. The projects
board will also use funds from the grant to buy a state marker
for Wilson in Milford, said chairwoman JerriAnne Boggis."