Traveling national exhibit shines spotlight on Colonial America

April 18, 2019 | Events, UToday, Library
By Bailey Sparks

An exhibit from the National Library of Medicine can be seen on the first floor of Carlson Library through Friday, April 26.

“The ‘Fire & Freedom: Food & Enslavement in Early America’ exhibit is one of several from the National Library of Medicine that the UToledo Libraries has hosted over the years,” said Gerald Natal, assistant professor and health sciences librarian in University Libraries.

This detail from Joachim Ferdinand Richardt’s “East Front of Mount Vernon” is featured in the “Fire & Freedom: Food & Enslavement in Early America” exhibit on display in Carlson Library.

The six panels show how meals reflected how power was exchanged between and among different peoples, races, genders and classes in the early colonial era.

These National Library of Medicine exhibits focus on the intersection of medicine with the arts, technology and society, but often go further to reveal issues of social justice, according to Natal.

For example, the current exhibit reveals that the popularity of a beverage enjoyed by a large percentage of Americans — coffee — was a major driver of slavery and colonialism. In addition, during his presidency, George Washington often rotated his slaves to get around the Gradual Abolition Act, which was an opportunity for freedom for slaves in Pennsylvania.

“These exhibits are so popular among libraries that we have to wait two to three years for an exhibit,” Natal said.

The free exhibit can be seen when Carlson Library is open: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 to 1 a.m.; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 to 1 a.m.

The next exhibit to come to the University will be “Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived and Well-Drawn!” It will be here in March 2021.

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