We visited the Morris Library to talk to Arline Wilson, a doctoral candidate in the University of Delaware’s English Department. In her role as a graduate assistant in Special Collections, Arline has curated an exhibit on the first floor of the Morris Library about the life of Solomon Bayley, born a slave in Kent County, Delaware, in about 1771. Bayley later gained his freedom and went on to become an author, farmer, and lay preacher. The exhibit will be on display in the Morris Library through March 31, 2017.
This small exhibit, “Solomon Bayley and anti-slavery in Delaware,” raises large questions about the abolitionist movement; the emigration of former slaves to Liberia in the 19th century; race relations in the 19th century; and the daily life of slaves, former slaves, the Liberian emigrants, slave holders, and abolitionists. Starting from a small collection of primary source materials, (letters, Bayley’s partially ghost-written autobiography, and other papers), Arline found herself thinking about the nature of history itself. Who’s telling the story? What’s been left out of what Americans learn about the history of the United States?
Check out the podcast linked below to hear Arline’s passionate description of what she learned working on the Bayley exhibit.
Arline Wilson, recorded Feb. 20, 2017. First aired Feb. 23, 2017.
About our guest
Arline Wilson, a doctoral candidate in the UD English Department, is a Delaware native with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Delaware. Before returning to the University, Arline spent several years as a high school teacher. She is currently writing her dissertation on African American Gothic discourse and hopes to give a voice to those silenced by history.
- University Library web page about the Solomon Bayley exhibition
- ‘Solomon Bayley’: University Library sets African American History Month exhibition, UDaily, Jan. 26, 2017.
University of Delaware Library Special Collections website
This exhibit is based on letters and manuscripts in the Library’s collection of manuscripts, in this case from the papers of Joseph Bringhurst. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Librarian and head of the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives department, joined our conversation to talk about the University’s collection and its availability to University faculty and students interested in gaining insight by studying primary source material.
Richard Gordon: Producer, recording engineer, co-host, web page editor, photographer
Julia Giambastiani: Audio editor
Rachel Silva: Co-host, web page author