Archives as Reconciliation

Date: July 13, 2022

Among my family records is the last will and testament of my ancestor, Caleb Golden (1790-1855) from Breman, Georgia. Amongst the bequests were the names of seventeen enslaved people: Doll, Lucy, Jack, Harry, Hannah, George, Joe, Cate, Wagoner, Lucy, Jacob, Lankistor, Jeni, Nancy, Jane, Nan, and Poss. The inhumanity of chattel slavery documented – not even human beings, mere objects. Property, like a plow or furniture. The marvel is that their names were preserved. That is the power of archives.

The archives of the African American Episcopal History Collection (AAEHC) at the Bishop Payne Library ensures that the lived experiences of Black bodies and souls are preserved, particularly those within the Episcopal Church. The collection allows you to experience Boston with Alan Crite, learn about Black ministry in New York with Harold T. Lewis, and reflect on spirituality with teenage John Walker (the first Black Bishop of Virginia) in the wake of WWII. It is important work. It is holy work. It reconciles the horrors of the past with the vision of God’s Kingdom. As the descendant of slaveholders, I am blessed to be continually transformed by the grace of these sacred memories.

Joshua Waits
Student Archivist for the AAEHC
Bishop Payne Library

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