Smithsonian Interns Assist with Nabb Center 'Enduring Connections' Project
SALISBURY, MD---For the second consecutive summer, the Enduring Connections project at Salisbury University’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture is getting a boost from a pair of interns through Smithsonian Institution.
A’Nya Harrison, of Washington, D.C., and Nandi Smith, of Fairfield, CA, have a passion for history. They are spending 12 weeks in Salisbury digging deep into records chronicling the Black communities across Delaware and the Eastern Shores of Maryland the Virginia.
Their, and the project’s, ultimate goal: Enhance access to existing records and information to assist future researchers and genealogists in locating that information.
With the scope of the program, conceptualized in 2019 and started in earnest in 2021, more help can mean a more in-depth database, making the Smithsonian interns’ assistance even more valuable.
“It’s a very meaningful project,” said Harrison, who is entering her senior year at the University of Chicago. “Looking around Salisbury, it’s a very low-key town, but there’s such a rich history here, and such a rich Black history here, that it’s nice to have those sources congregated. As an African American, it felt really impactful that there’s work being done to specifically congregate those sources. I think generally I feel really proud to be a part of that.”
While Harrison visited nearby Ocean City, MD, during her childhood, she never spent time in Salisbury. This is Smith’s first time on the East Coast.
Through their work with the Nabb Center and their experiences this summer, they have witnessed connections in the area’s Black communities first hand.
“We went to the [Eastern Shore] Juneteenth Festival, and it seemed like most Black people in this area knew each other. That’s a sense of community I wish I had where I live in the greater Sacramento area,” Smith said.
She and Harrison also have seen that cohesiveness through their work with records dating back to the 1700s — families and communities moving together and staying connected.
Harrison is majoring English with a minor in education, where her passion lies. For the Enduring Connections project, she has worked with correspondence and reports related to schools that the Freedmen’s Bureau assisted in the area. She has been focused particularly in Centreville, MD, where she has tracked records of community members writing to the Bureau for more than a year requesting lumber so they could build a school. Despite not having that school erected, the community continued to hold classes, educating the children of the area together.
SU Archivist Ian Post, Harrison’s and Smith’s supervisor at the Nabb Center, worked with the pair when they came to SU to determine their passions and interest in the center to better chose their research path for the project.
Harrison’s educational passion led her to the Freedmen’s Schools, while Smith’s career path is headed toward graduate school and work with museums.
“I think the skills that I take from here can help with the application to graduate school and even to maybe get an assistantship for a grad position,” said Smith, a recent graduate from Sacramento State University with a degree in anthropology. “After grad school, I want to work in museum curation.
“This was also a place for me to confirm that this is the path I want to take, and it is. Even though I’m not doing curation all the time, this is the field and realm that I enjoy, and I’m really enjoying my time here and the work that I’m doing.”
The Enduring Connections project is led by Post and is benefited from many volunteers who visit the Nabb Center to assist. The information may be accessed by researchers, families studying local genealogy and the general public at https://enduringconnections.salisbury.edu.
Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.