Come learn about the Great Dismal Swamp, located in Coastal Plain Region of Virginia and North Carolina, and hear the history of how enslaved peoples found freedom here.
For more than two centuries, enslaved people sought refuge in the Great Dismal Swamp of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. These freedom seekers established and sustained communities on precarious mesic islands within the Great Dismal Swamp. Archaeologists have explored the maroon settlements established on these islands and historians have discussed these communities in general terms. However, the journeys of the diasporic exiles who reached the Great Dismal Swamp have not previously been addressed. This presentation examines those journeys. Using data from newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves, Dr. Hyman explores relationships between the plantations from which enslaved individuals liberated themselves and their island destinations in the Great Dismal Swamp. This examination shows how geospatial approaches within historical geography, coupled with historical analysis, animate obscured geographies of containment and domination to reveal the range of antagonisms that enslaved freedom seekers faced in their journeys to freedom.