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Exhibits in Special Collections

square portion of exhibit poster for Plants Plantations Labor Trade

Plants  Plantations  Labor  Trade

An Exhibit of Holdings of the UW-Madison Libraries and Wisconsin Historical Society Library & Archives

Department of Special Collections, 976 Memorial Library

January 13 – May 22, 2020

In conjunction with the Sawyer Seminar “Interrogating the Plantationocene,” Center for the Humanities, UW-Madison.

Highlighting books, manuscripts, archives, music, and pictorial materials exploring the long history and global reach of plantations, including crops and land use, racialized and forced labor, means of production and markets.

Topics addressed include

  • crops and products such as sugar, cotton, cacao, coffee, indigo, and rubber
  • companies and industrial operations relying on plantations, including the Wisconsin Rubber Company, Rio Tamasopo Sugar Company, Mexican Plantation Company, and McCormick Works Twine Mill
  • Saint-Domingue and the Haitian Revolution
  • Sir Hans Sloane and the natural history of Jamaica
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Transmission, depiction, reaction
  • profound environmental degradation, cotton, and the Aral Sea
  • echoes of plantations in music and the performance history of the Jubilee Singers
  • labor organizing by the United Farm Workers
  • manuscript records of American and Caribbean plantations, slaveholding and indentured laborers.

Items on display range from business records to product promotions and produce boycotts, sheet music and recordings to photographs and engravings, novels to political tracts and protest posters, travel narratives to treatises on natural history, fabric and dye samples to artists’ books. They come from the holdings of the UW-Madison Kohler Art Library, Memorial Library, Mills Music Library, and Department of Special Collections, and the Archives & Library of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Viewers may find some materials disturbing.

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Open Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM, on the 9th floor of Memorial Library.  Visitors are welcome.

Co-curated by Cynthia Bachhuber, Susan Barribeau, Tom Caw, Laura Martin, Robin Rider, Lisa Saywell, and Emilie Songolo. Thanks also to Carly Sentieri for designing the exhibit poster and enhancements to the exhibit space.