Inequality in Bronze: Monumental Plantation Legacies has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
About the Project
Stenton has primarily interpreted the life of James Logan, Secretary to William Penn. The museum recently accepted the gift of a cast bronze memorial to Logan created for the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1939, which has been stored since 1969. Although a Quaker, Logan was also a slaveholder, placing the monument squarely in the current national debate about the validity of public images deemed racist, insensitive or inappropriate; a debate that began with Confederate monuments and the violence in Charlottesville, but has spread to monuments of various types across the country.
Stenton also stewards a memorial plaque to Dinah, a once-enslaved woman who was brought to the site as part of a dowry c.1753, and manumitted in 1776 by William and Hannah Logan. An oral tradition recounts Dinah’s role in saving Stenton from burning by the British in November 1777, and she is documented in correspondence and diaries kept by Deborah and George Logan between 1784-1839. The plaque memorializes this story of Dinah and was erected in 1912 in Stenton Park, a joint project between the Pennsylvania Colonial Dames and Site and Relic Society of Germantown.
Though it uses language that is anachronistic today, the plaque is extraordinary in that it is one of the earliest and few memorials to an enslaved African American woman. In the mid-20th century, the plaque was removed by the city and languished in Stenton’s cellar.
Dinah’s neglected plaque and the arrival of the Logan memorial present a unique opportunity for Stenton to address a crucial issue at the heart of the debate over monuments, the absence of memorials to the millions of Africans and African Americans who lived as slaves and whose contributions to our country’s history remain ignored in many public spaces.
INEQUALITY IN BRONZE is a two-year project that embraces this opportunity by wrestling with the issues surrounding the arrival of the Logan memorial, and how to best memorialize Dinah and her story in the twenty-first century. With the help of facilitators and a public art curator, we will initiate a community engagement process that will capture what matters to residents of our neighborhood in the representation and interpretation of Dinah at Stenton. This input will inform the creation of a new memorial to Dinah, by an artist selected with the help of the public art curator and our community. We will enhance our ability to tell stories that reflect our neighborhood, and for the first time, engage in shared authority with our community.
Key components of this project include: A community needs assessment and a series of community charrettes to conceptualize the project; a curator-led community inclusive process to select an artist; fabrication and unveiling of the final project, and conservation of the original memorial to Dinah, erected in 1912. Our goals for the project include:
· To work with our neighbors to create a 21st-century memorial to Dinah
· Elevate and commemorate Dinah’s story
· Address the national debate about monuments and the absence of memorials to millions of enslaved Africans and Africans Americans, whose contributions to our history remain ignored or silenced in many public spaces.