Race, Ridgefield, and the Resseguie Hotel (Grades 8–12)

Examining race, gender, and privilege through the Arts and Historiography

This program is offered for grades 8-12 and has asynchronous and synchronous components to enable students and teachers to engage with the difficult history of race. The program culminates with a live presentation with a museum educator who discusses the objects and documents that provide the historical basis for the play and activities offered in this program.

Program Components

SISTERS is a play about two women—one black and one white—who lived at the site of Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center through the 19thcentury. Phillis DuBois came as an 8-year-old freed black child to live with the Resseguie family to care for the family’s white child, Anna Marie, and work to help run the tavern. The girls grew up in the same household, never married, ran the family’s business, grew old together, and are buried side-by-side here in Ridgefield. The play challenges how the events on the eve of the Civil War are seen through each woman’s eyes–and calls into question the assumption that they were raised as “sisters”.

Google Classroom hosts accompanying activities including a Google Slides activity on historiography; the pre-program QFT activity (see below); a writing prompt for discussing the play; a teacher’s guide with suggestions for using the materials; and the link tothe video. Single use of the Google Classroom resources are included in program fees.

Interactive Virtual Learning (IVL) program is a 45-minute live session with a museum educator that focuses of the objects and documents that the Museum has on the history of Phillis and Anna Marie. Examining the historical record shows students the gaps in our documentation and knowledge when it comes to issues of race and gender. Before viewing the play, students fill out a Google Form that uses the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to gather questions ahead of time so that the museum educator can have meaningful engagement with the students.

To book a program, fill out our Virtual Program Form, or for more information please contact our Education Department.

Extend the Learning

Wide Awakes

Did you know that this group of political activists originate in Hartford Connecticut and was made up of young 20-somethings? One of their mottos was “Free Speech, Free Soil, Free Men” and they played a part in electing Abraham Lincoln President in 1860. Young people have been major advocates for social change throughout American history!

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Frederick Douglass in Connecticut

While Frederick Douglass never visited Ridgefield, it does make for a powerful scene in the play to have his “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” speech intermixed with Phillis and Anna Marie’s experience at a political rally. Frederick Douglass did visit Connecticut on multiple occasions–and didn’t find the State very welcoming.

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