African American Literature Field Trip Connects to Cultural & Ethnic Heritage


The African American literature class took a field trip to visit the Amistad Research Center on Tulane University’s campus. The center’s mission is their commitment to collecting, preserving, and providing open access to original materials that reference the social and cultural importance of America’s ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, human relations, and civil rights.

During their visit, students were oriented to the archival research process by Christopher Harter, Director of Library and Reference Services, who had curated a number of pieces specific to the class’s design cycle experience research process.

The students are currently studying alternate literacies, such a quilt codes and spirituals, which sprang up as a result of the anti-literacy laws that blocked slaves from being allowed to learn to read and write. The class is also working on designing their own quilt code related to the theme of equality, so Mr. Harter pulled from the collection a locally-made quilt dedicated to the landmark Supreme Court Amistad decision.

Other special archive items included a first edition printing of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, her collection of evidence which she published in response to criticism that her famous novel was “too unrealistic.” The students also heard from Dr. Anastacia Scott who told them about the Center’s new outreach initiative Amistad On The Go!, which provides digital curriculum guides and other resources for educators.