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Uncovering Women’s Stories in Historical Archives: Women’s History Month Events Set at Duquesne

What does a Civil War-era log cabin standing in the woods of a rural community in Mecklenburg County, Va., have to do with Women's History Month?

A lot when that cabin and surrounding six acres of land were purchased in 1888 by an African-American woman named Vicey Skipwith, whose parents had been enslaved on the very same land just a few decades prior. While Skipwith was among thousands of newly freed African Americans who established themselves and purchased land throughout Virginia, each purchase was a remarkable achievement.

The story of how this cabin's rich history was revealed will be the focus of a Duquesne University Women's History Month event on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom. Not Even Past: Six Acres and a Mule or Searching for Vicey Skipwith will be presented by Dr. Angelita Reyes, professor of African and African-American studies and English at Arizona State University.

Although Skipwith was unable to read and write to leave her own historical record, her story can be found in material archives due to her property ownership: tax records, census records, plantation records, Civil War maps, church archives and the collective memory of oral history.

Earlier in the week, another Women's History Month event-Works in Progress in Gender and the Archives-will be presented on Tuesday, March 25, at noon in the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center in the Gumberg Library. The discussion will be academic in nature and especially useful to individuals researching archival material with a lens toward how gender is revealed therein. Beverages and dessert will be provided, but attendees are asked to bring their own lunches.

Both events are free and open to the public. More information is available by emailing wsgs@duq.edu.

The Women's History Month events are sponsored by the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, the McAnulty College NEH Endowment, the Departments of English and History and the Center for African Studies.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.