Protesting Unfreedom

at Revolution

Cultural belongings of black and indigenous histories in early america

Expanding upon the themes of the larger Unfinished 250 project series, Protesting Unfreedom at Revolution gathers voices of creators and scholars responding to cultural belongings of Black and Indigenous historical narratives in the form of writing, music, spoken poetry, song, and more. Join us and explore the respondents’ reflections.

Ask your own questions and participate in our collective dialogue.

The Exhibit

Portrait of Thayendanegea/Joseph Brant

Charles Willson Peale painted this portrait of Thayendanegea, or Joseph Brant (1743-1807), in 1797. Thayendanegea was an important military and political leader of the Mohawk, who led his people against the colonists during the American Revolution. Read more

What can we learn about sovereignty from Thayendanegea?

Phillis Wheatley's Writing Desk

The folding mahogany table is thought to have been used by Phillis Wheatley while composing Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Read more

What ideas do we suppose Phillis Wheatley contemplated at her writing desk?

Phillis Wheatley's Book of Poetry

The rare signed first edition of Phillis Wheatley’s book of poems (1773) is from the Lloyd W. Smith collection at Morristown National Historical Park. Read more

Is freedom from bondage enough to truly be free?

Martha Uncas's Belt

With this belt, Martha Uncas (1761-1859) of the Mohegan Tribe passed on the practice of symbolic adornment, sustaining the obligation of bringing forward Mohegan traditions. Read more

How does this belt represent Mohegan women's protests against unfreedoms?

Juno Larcom's Petition and Will

Juno Larcom (1726-1818) was a formerly enslaved woman of Afro-Indigenous descent who gained her freedom through the United States court of law.

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What does this will tell us about Larcom's life in enslavement?


Colonoware is a low-fired earthenware pottery tradition associated with early Africans, African Americans, and Indigenous communities living along the Eastern Seaboard of North America and in the Caribbean. Read more

What stories might this colonoware share?

Medicine Bottles with Sponges

These two medicine bottles with sponges are part of a collection from the Abiel Smith School, an all-Black school that opened in 1835 in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Read more

How does this bottle represent freedom or unfreedom?