The Witness Stones Project
On October 12, 2022, Historic Deerfield unveiled 19 Witness Stones memorials at different locations (all are Historic Deerfield properties) along Old Main Street. You can use the map below to find and visit the memorials as you make your way through the village.
As part of Historic Deerfield’s ongoing commitment to broadening visitor knowledge and experience, the Museum has partnered with the Witness Stones Project, Inc., a Connecticut-based organization with a unique approach to memorializing enslaved individuals. Inspired by the Stolpersteine project in Germany commemorating victims of the Nazis, the Witness Stones Project works to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.
Over a third of the households on Deerfield’s mile-long street included at least one enslaved person by the mid-18th century. Much of the surviving archival evidence is housed at the Memorial Libraries in Deerfield and was shared as early as 1893 in an article written by Deerfield’s 19th-century town historian George Sheldon. This evidence has enabled staff of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Historic Deerfield, and other dedicated researchers to recover and share information about the presence and lives of Deerfield’s enslaved residents. While we currently know less about some individuals than others, our efforts to learn and share as much as we can about their lives and stories are ongoing. In all cases, we seek to acknowledge each person, and to recognize their many contributions in building Deerfield into the thriving town that it is today.
A Witness Stones memorial is a 4” x 4” bronze plaque identifying the enslaved person. The installation of Witness Stones memorials on sites currently owned by Historic Deerfield where enslaved men, women and children lived and worked is an essential element in the Museum’s ongoing initiative to share this history with visitors and local residents alike. The memorials are installed close to the sidewalks, ensuring that people walking there will be able see them and be inspired to want to learn more about the individuals whose presence they commemorate.