Plantation Goods: A Material History of American Slavery


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

In this talk, Seth Rockman, author of Plantation Goods: A Material History of American Slavery (November 2024), reveals the biggest stories of early American history through the most mundane artifacts: shoes manufactured in Massachusetts for the use of enslaved people in Mississippi, for example, or woolen dresses stitched in Rhode Island for enslaved women in South Carolina to wear. In following these everyday goods from the communities in which they were made to the communities in which they were used, we can rethink the geography of slavery and freedom in the decades between American independence and the Civil War. In doing so, we can confront questions that continue to preoccupy us in the age of the iPhone and fair-trade coffee: what are the moral, ecological, and political relationships linking consumers and producers across long distances? What does it mean to be “complicit?"

This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Doors open at 6:30pm. 


Seth Rockman is associate professor of history at Brown University. He is the author of Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (2009) and coeditor of Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (2016). Rockman serves on the faculty advisory board of Brown University’s Ruth J. Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. He was elected to AAS membership in October 2011.

Photo by Peter Goldberg