Allison Smith Presents “Mary Ann Shadd Revisited: Echoes From an Old House”
Allison Smith, who recently graduated with her Master’s in Public History, submitted a Master’s research project that comprised a 30-minute historical documentary film and a short reflexive essay. Her film is about a collection of letters to and from African American abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd between 1851 and 1863 – years that she lived in Canada. The letters were left in her house when she returned to the U.S.A. and eventually forgotten. They were accidentally rediscovered in 1974 by the then owners of the house, after it had been torn down, just before the rubble was burned. The letters were accepted by Archives of Ontario for preservation. The premise of her film is that, had the letters been found before the 1960s, they might not have been offered to, or accepted by the Archives. She argues that it was the emergence in the 1960s of ideas about Social History, the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement that led the owners of the letters and the Archives to realize their importance.