Inserting the memory of the enslaved back into history


Date: Saturday, September 26, 2020
Rain Date: Sunday, September 27, 2020
Time: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Location: Sylvester Manor Back Porch, 80 North Ferry Road, Shelter Island
Tickets: Tickets are free, however due to space limitations, pre-registration is required (click here).


Join us for an outdoor conversation and Q & A on the history of slavery on the East End of Long Island and the ongoing work of the Plain Sight Project. Hear David Rattray, Managing Editor of the East Hampton Star and Director of the Plain Sight Project and Donnamarie Barnes, Curator/Archivist of SMEF and Chairwoman of the Plain Sight Project as they discuss how in Colonial North America, slavery was a part of life. This was true on Long Island, N.Y. and across the Northeast. Enslaved people of African heritage were a presence in the farms and homes of nearly every European family of means.

Starting from the mid-17th century, the Plain Sight Project on the East End of Long Island is working to comprehensively identify, enumerate and restore the stories of enslaved persons of African descent to their essential place in American history. Beginning with work to locate and preserve burial grounds, habitations, and work sites in the East Hampton Historic District, the Project is creating a template for other communities, historical societies and school districts to follow to uncover this important history that has been hidden in plain sight for far too long.

Reflecting on the importance of this work, Ms.Barnes states, “From the founding of the towns and villages of the East End of Long Island by European settlers, slavery was an integral part of life in every community here. But the identities and stories of the enslaved people have been lost to history and hidden from view. The evidence is there to be found waiting among the documents and records of every town. The work we do at Sylvester Manor and the Plain Sight Project is dedicated to uncovering the names and adding as many details of the lives of the enslaved as we can. Their contributions are a part of our history and the history of this nation.” 

About the Speakers

David Rattray is the owner and editor of The East Hampton Star. He is the fifth member of the Rattray family over three generations to have held the post. He attended the Hampton Day School in Bridgehampton, N.Y. in his early years and graduated from East Hampton High School and then Dartmouth College. Before taking over the family business, he worked as a field archaeologist for the American Museum of Natural History. He was also associate producer of the public television documentaries “The Hurricane of ’38” and “Chicago 1968” for the American Experience and “Tabloid Truth” for Frontline. He worked for Design Division, a museum design firm in Manhattan, on projects for the Catawba and Mashantucket Pequot Nations before returning to East Hampton in 1998 to work at The Star. He became its editor in 2003, succeeding his mother, Helen S. Rattray. David lives in the house he grew up in on the southern shore of Gardiner’s Bay in Amagansett with his wife, Lisa, and their three children, Adelia, Everett, and Ellis.

Donnamarie Barnes has spent over thirty years working in the editorial photography field as a photographer and photo editor for publications such as People and Essence Magazines and as an Editor at the Gamma Liaison photo agency. A life-long summer and full-time resident of Ninevah Beach in the historic SANS Community in Sag Harbor, Donnamarie grew up photographing the community and the beach landscape. She curated a highly-acclaimed historic tintype photography exhibition in 2015 at the Eastville Community Historical Society entitled, “Collective Identity”. Donnamarie began working at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in 2014 as a volunteer and history docent and in 2016 joined the staff as Curator & Archivist. Over the past three years she has curated the exhibitions, “Women of the Manor”, “A Place in Pictures” and “All That Has Been: Our Roots Revealed”. Her work uncovering the lives and identities of the enslaved and indigenous people of Sylvester Manor is ongoing and is an integral part of the Manor’s mission to preserve, cultivate and share the stories of all the people of Sylvester Manor.

Safety Measures: To ensure the health and safety of all attendees, total attendance will be limited to 45 and seating will be spaced according to social distance requirements. Masks must be worn at all times.

About Sylvester Manor Educational Farm: Once a Native American hunting, fishing and farming ground, Sylvester Manor has since 1651 been home to eleven generations of its original European settler family. Gifted to the Shelter Island community in 2014, the 235-acre historic site is the most intact slaveholding plantation remnant north of Virginia. Sylvester Manor sits on Gardiners Creek and has been transformed to an Enlightenment-era farm, then to a pioneering food industrialist’s estate and today to a nonprofit organic educational farm and vibrant arts and education center with programs open to all. The property includes the original Manor House built in 1735, a timber frame farmstand and a 19th century windmill. For more information, visit www.sylvestermanor.org.



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