Through research, education, and civic engagement, the WITNESS STONES PROJECT seeks to restore the history and to honor the humanity and contributions of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.
Begun by an 8th grade Guilford United States History teacher, the purpose of the Witness Stones Project is to engage students in the analysis and interpretation of primary sources about enslaved individuals and to present that information to the public. The research results in a stone with a brass plaque installed in the sidewalk where each of the enslaved persons once lived. These stones remind us of the lives lived in bondage.
On Wednesday, September 26, West Hartford will install its first Witness Stones. Retired history teachers Tracey Wilson and Liz Devine worked with 42 Conard High School students in the spring of 2018 to answer the compelling question: “Why bear witness to slavery in West Hartford?” By researching two of West Hartford’s formerly enslaved residents, George, owned by Timothy Goodman, and Jude, owned by Stephen Sedgwick, students learned about the broader context of 18th century Connecticut slavery.
The Witness Stones Project West Hartford gives both students and adults the opportunity to learn more about the town’s history, and to consider issues of race and bias that continue to plague our nation today.
The Witness Stones Project West Hartford is facilitated by retired history teachers Tracey Wilson and Liz Devine on behalf of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit museum with a mission to preserve, interpret and champion Noah Webster’s legacy and birthplace and the evolving history of West Hartford.
A ceremony held to honor George and Jude will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the First Church of West Hartford. Afterward, guests will walk to the Old Center Cemetery, where the stones will be laid.