History of the Commission
The Committee on the History of Salem Academy and College, which included faculty, staff, student, alumnae, and trustee representation, was formed in the spring of 2017 to review College orientation traditions and to make recommendations about possible discoveries resulting from the research commissioned by the administration into the relationship between the institution and slavery. The committee completed its charge in the spring of 2018. Its final recommendation resulted in the creation of The Commission on Slavery and Its Legacy at Salem Academy and College.
On November 22, 2019, the Commission was renamed the Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation. The name change better reflects the scope of the work of the Commission and also honors an enslaved African American student at the Girls School in Salem (1793 to 1795). Anna Maria’s father, Johann Samuel, was the first person baptized in Salem’s Moravian congregation. Her brothers were well-known musicians in St. Philips Moravian Church, located south of Salem’s campus on Church Street. Anyone wishing to know more about Anna Maria Samuel may visit the Academy and College museum in the Single Sisters House.
More information about the early history of the town and school, as well as the experiences of African Americans and Cherokees in Salem, can be found in the 250th anniversary reprint of Francis Griffin’s Less Time for Meddling: A History of Salem Academy and College, 1772-1866. It is available for purchase at the online Salem 250th Store.
- Rev. Dr. Amy Rio, Chaplain, Salem Academy & College
- Ms. Michelle Hopkins Lawrence, Academy History Teacher
- Khadijah Bangura C’21
- Tabitha Benton C’22
- Jessi Bowman C’18
- Robin Campbell, Director of College Counseling Services
- Nora Doyle, Chair, College Department of History and Political Science
- Shayla Herndon-Edmunds, Consultant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Hannah Escala C'22
- Kasey Collins Hayes A’03
- Elizabeth Novicki, Director of Libraries
- Felecia Penn A'03, Director of Student Activities, Academy
Speakers and Events Sponsored by the Anna Maria Samuel Project
Salem Academy and College's 250th Anniversary Events
Throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, we celebrate in many ways, including opportunities to engage in inclusive reflections on our history and honoring the resilience, contributions, and experiences of those who paved the way. The Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation is sponsored the following two events:
Historical Presentation and Community Panel - Wednesday, September 15, 2021
The Anna Maria Samuel Project hosted a historical presentation and community panel that examined the history of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans in the town of Salem and at Salem Academy and College. Speakers and panelists included Martha Hartley, Director of Moravian Research and Co-Chair of the Hidden Town Project at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, as well as members of the Anna Maria Samuel Project.
See the events page on 250.salem.edu for additional details.
Signage and Sisters Museum Unveiling, Walking Tour, and Commemoration of Enslaved Laborers - Friday, September 17, 2021
The Anna Maria Samuel Project unveiled new historical markers that tell the story of African Americans who were enslaved by the Salem Academy and College before Emancipation and those who continued to work at the school into the 20th century. At the same time, the Single Sisters Museum was open for the community to view its newly updated panels and exhibits. The Anna Maria Samuel Project then facilitated a short walking tour of the campus, focusing on the sites that have significance to the school's history with slavery and race. This event culminated at St. Philips Moravian Church, at the end of Church Street, with a commemoration of those who were enslaved by Salem Academy and College.
Becoming American: Moravians and their Neighbors, 1772-1822: A Virtual Town and Gown Conference
September 23-26, 2020
This online conference hosted by the Moravian Studies Collaborative offered a historical examination of the concept of “the neighbor” and invited reflection on the first fifty years of Moravian-influenced change in the Piedmont. Who were the Moravians’ neighbors? And who did “the neighbor” include and exclude, and how? How did the Moravian communities envision their own role and responsibilities as neighbors? Read more and view conference videos, visit humanitiesinstitute.wfu.edu/programming/ba
“The Hidden Town Project: To Research and Reveal History of Enslaved and Free Africans and African Americans in Salem, North Carolina” Presentation
October 22, 2019
Martha Hartley, Director of Moravian Research and Co-Chair of the Hidden Town Project at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, gave this talk in Shirley Recital Hall at Salem Academy & College
“Update on Salem Academy & College Historical Research” Presentation
April 9, 2019
Michelle Hopkins Lawrence, History teacher at Salem Academy and Co-Chair of the Anna Maria Samuel Project, and Jessi Bowman, C’18, present an update on research commissioned by Salem Academy & College