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1856 Project to Host Inaugural Research Update

By Maryland Today Staff

A 1919 image by J. Henry Shannon shows a cabin on land belonging to the Eversfield family, a structure that likely was demolished when the UMD campus expanded in the 1920s. (Photo courtesy of Washington History Center. Rambler Photo Collection, Dr. Octavius Eversfield Office, RA 649-2)

A new report from The 1856 Project at the University of Maryland explores the story of an enslaved family that could have lived where the Xfinity Center stands today, as well as the Rossborough Inn’s potential ties to the Underground Railroad.

On Wednesday, the research group will hold its first Annual Research Update to discuss its latest work, including discoveries by its research team, summer and fall interns, and community historians. The project is named for the year of then-Maryland Agricultural College’s (MAC) founding.

The report features background on MAC founder Charles Benedict Calvert, a slaveholder who donated land to create the college; an examination of how land, roads and taverns in the area around MAC could have been used by slaves seeking freedom; and how early investors and trustees of MAC gained wealth through slavery. It highlights the stories of local African American families, including the Dorys and the Greenleafs—who were enslaved on what is now university land—and introduces new archaeological studies.

The 1856 Project is the local chapter of Universities Studying Slavery, an international coalition of institutions that seeks to connect historical links to slavery and the slave trade to contemporary issues of racial inequality in higher education.

The event is open to the public. It takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. in McKeldin Library’s Special Events Room and on Zoom. Registration is requested.

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