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Purchased Lives: Home

September 4, 2017 to October 13, 2017


“Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865,” a traveling panel exhibition exploring the history of the domestic slave trade, will be on display at Ellender Memorial Library.

Presented by Entergy Corporation with additional support from the National Park Service and the Kabacoff Family Foundation, the exhibition will run from September 4, 2017 to October 13, 2017.
“Purchased Lives” is a traveling exhibition by The Historic New Orleans Collection in collaboration with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.


Programs held at Terrebonne Parish Library:

September 19, 2017

Book Discussion

12 Years a Slave

Held at Main Branch of Terrebonne Parish Library

September 25, 2017

Movie Screening

12 Years a Slave

Held at Main Branch of Terrebonne Parish Library


Tuesday, September 5, 2017 @ 10:30-11:30am

A Journey Through Slavery at the Whitney Plantation

Dr. Ibrahima Seck, Director of Research at Whitney Plantation

Lecture and Discussion; Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor


The Whitney Plantation is located in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, about an hour west of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. This former indigo then sugar plantation is now open to the public as a museum with a total focus on slavery. At Whitney, the visitors are offered a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people using restored historic buildings, museum exhibits, memorial artwork and hundreds of first-person slave narratives. As a site of memory and consciousness, the Whitney Plantation Museum is meant to pay homage to all the people who were enslaved in Louisiana and elsewhere in the US South. In his lecture, Dr. Seck will present the history of the Whitney Plantation in the wider context of the Atlantic slave trade and will touch many topics related to the cultural legacies of slavery in Louisiana and how those legacies contributed to shape American culture.  Dr. Seck will also pinpoint the importance of places like Whitney as catalysts towards the Second American Revolution and the birth of post-racial America.


Short Bio

Ibrahima Seck is a member of the History department of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD), Senegal. His research is mostly devoted to the historical and cultural links between West Africa and Louisiana with a special interest for religious beliefs, music, foodways, and miscellaneous aspects of folklore. In 1999, he defended a doctoral dissertation entitled “African Cultures and Slavery in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, from Iberville to Jim Crow.” Dr. Seck is now holding the position of the director of research of the Whitney Plantation Slavery Museum, which is located between Wallace and Edgard in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana. He is the author of a book on this historic site entitled “Bouki fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860. [New Orleans: UNO Press, 2014].


Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 6:00-7:00pm

“Taking on the Tough Stuff of History: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade”

Dr. Erin Greenwald, Purchased Lives Curator & historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection

Lecture and Discussion; Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor

Dr. Greenwald will discuss the research behind the “Purchased Lives” exhibition and the importance of grappling with the complex histories of race and slavery in the 21st century.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 5:00-6:00pm

“Proofs of Purchase: Documenting Enslaved Ancestors”

Jari Honora, genealogist

Lecture and Discussion; Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor

This presentation offers a brief overview of genealogical research for African Americans in the post-Civil War period. The talk is focused primarily on tracing enslaved ancestors back through generations of captivity, including methods for identifying the last-known slave owners of African Americans in the antebellum period.

Mr. Honora is a graduate of Tulane University and has over a decade of experience in historical and genealogical research including research for the PBS series, ”Finding Your Roots” and the Georgetown Slavery Project.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ noon-1pm

“Williams’ Gang: A Slave Trader, His Cargo, and Justice in the Old South”

Dr. Jeff Forret, Professor of History and Distinguished Faculty Research Fellow at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas

Lecture and Discussion; Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor

This lecture offers a legal history of the domestic slave trade based on Dr. Forret's current book project of the same name. In 1840, Washington, DC, slave trader William H. Williams unlawfully conveyed some two dozen enslaved convicts from Virginia into Louisiana and had them confiscated by the state. Dr. Forret's research chronicles the trader's decades-long struggle with the Louisiana government for the enslaved convicts' return.


Monday, October 2, 2017 @ 2pm

Movie Screening of 12 Years a Slave

Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor

Based on a true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom, this film tells the story of Solomon Northrop, a free black man from upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery. FREE. Rated R. Run Time, 2 hours, 14 minutes.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017 @ 1:30-2:30pm

“In the Footsteps of Solomon Northup”

Meredith Melancon, educator and author of The Solomon Northup Trail

Lecture and Discussion; Library Multipurpose Room, 3rd Floor

Ms. Melancon will lead attendees in exploring the lives of the enslaved along Solomon Northup's Bayou Boeuf. Through the Acadiana Historical website and the smartphone app she created, Melancon traces Northup's experiences in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes after he was sold from New Orleans slave trader Theophilus Freeman to William Prince Ford.