The National Library of Medicine produced Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America, along with the companion website, with guest curator, historian, author, and educator Psyche Williams-Forson, PhD (University of Maryland, College Park). It is on view at the Heritage Museum from June 5, 2023 to July 15, 2023.

The traveling exhibition and companion website explore ways in which meals can tell us how power is exchanged between and among different peoples, races, genders, and classes. In the Chesapeake region during the colonial era, European settlers relied upon indentured servants, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans for labor, life-saving knowledge of farming and food acquisition, and to gain economic prosperity. Fire and Freedom looks into life at George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation and the labor of enslaved workers to learn about the ways that meals transcend taste and sustenance.

Fire and Freedom includes an education component with two K-12 lesson plans and a university module. A digital gallery features a curated selection of fully digitized items from the historical collections of the NLM, which are also available in their entirety in NLM Digital Collections.

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Admission to the Heritage Museum is always free, and donations are gratefully accepted. The museum is open Tuesday – Thursday 10AM – 6PM, Friday & Saturday 10AM – 4PM, and closed Sunday & Monday.




Mission: The mission of the Heritage Museum is to collect and share the natural history and diverse cultural heritage of the river community of Independence.