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October 28, 2015

19th century Midwest African-Americans remembered in SVSU lecture

Photo of Jennifer StinsonThe Saginaw Valley State University history department will host the 13th annual Hoffmann/Willertz Lecture Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Jennifer Stinson, SVSU associate professor of history, will present “Laboring in Bondage in a Free Land: Remembering the 19th-Century Midwest’s Enslaved and Indentured African-Americans.”

Stinson will present an excerpt from her book manuscript on African-Americans and those whose lives bridged African, Indian and Euro-American identities in the rural Midwest. Her presentation will examine antebellum lead diggings, farms, and forts of Wisconsin and Illinois.

There, amid mixture and contestation between Indian, French, British and U.S. American peoples, Stinson will address the following questions: What was it like to live in bondage in ostensibly free states and territories? What purposes did unfree labor serve, and what meanings did masters and mistresses assign to it? What forms did unfree people's resistance take? And how has unfree labor and resistance been remembered and forgotten in our region?

Stinson has presented at several national conventions, including those hosted by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. She also has spoken at international events such as the International Inclusive Museum, Slaving Zones, and Many Faces of Slavery conferences. She co-led a seminar on race and the U.S. constitution at the SRH Hochschule/University in Heidelberg, Germany.

Stinson completed a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College and a Ph.D. at Indiana University. Her talk is part of SVSU’s Fall Focus lecture series; all lectures in the series are open to the public and free of charge. For more information on the series, visit