Commodore Collection

Sumner Hall is proud to share with our supporters the successful effort to rescue and preserve a significant collection of family papers that were discovered in a house near Chestertown scheduled for demolition.  Community members and several generous donors made this a reality. A special vote of thanks is due to Adam Goodheart, Director of the Starr Center for the Study of and the American Experience, Washington College, whose leadership saved the papers from dispersal.

The collection contains approximately 2,000 pages,100 of which document aspects of African American life from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. This part of the collection has been named the Commodore Collection in honor of Norris Commodore and his family who have deep roots in Kent County and who was one of the key donors who saved the collection. The Commodore Collection will belong to Sumner Hall while being conserved and archived at Washington College’s Miller Library.

These papers are being digitized by The Chesapeake Heartland: An African American Humanities Project.

View The Commodore Collection

News Article(s)

Washington Post Article: https://chesapeakeheartland.org/commodore-collection 

The Hill Article: https://thehill.com/changing-america/enrichment/arts-culture/561409-thousands-of-pages-documenting-slavery-found-in

Atlanta Black Star: https://atlantablackstar.com/2021/07/07/we-bought-every-manuscript-black-historians-community-members-band-together-to-reclaim-trove-of-rare-records-documenting-lives-of-free-and-enslaved-black-people/