Voices of Sackville: Project Update 4/6/16

This has been a very busy week for me and I have not made as much progress on my project as I had hoped to. I did succeed in finishing my research which has allowed me to select the individuals I am going to highlight in my project.

As I have mentioned before, this project seeks to tell the stories of the individuals involved at Sackville in their own words (which has been an ongoing challenge). After completing my research, I have found that this is not fully possible. I have found first-person primary sources for at least 3 of my featured individuals. George Rogers Clark left behind several sources, including his personal memoir and letters to various fellow Virginias (including George Mason). One of Clark’s second-in-commands wrote a field journal during the expedition, keeping an almost daily record of the troops’ actions, experiences and moral. Finally, the British commander, Henry Hamilton, also kept a personal journal and wrote letters to his commanders explaining why he surrendered the Fort.

Even with these great sources, I have had to be creative about providing glimpses into the lives of other individuals who did not leave personal accounts. One of the most fascinating sources I have found (just this week) was the account book of Francis Francis Bosseron, a French merchant and acting Mayor and Militia Captain of Vincennes. In these records, one is able to see what items Captain Helm (the American commander sent there by Clark) brought on behalf of the United States for his men and what he personally bought for himself. From these records, it is easy to imagine Helm’s first few days at the Fort. After arriving on September 25th, Helm established accounts both for the United States troops and for himself. Bosseron records purchases of “365 1/2 pounds of beef at 10 s”, “2 prs shoes at 50 s” (September 28) and “2 pounds of powder” (September 30) which were “Furnished to Captain Helm for the Company of the States.” For himself, Helm purchased “1 hat…50 livres” and “1 pack of cards….3 livres” on October 20th and “1 overcoat…95 livres” and “1 penknife…3 livres” on November 1st. One can also see how Helm formed crucial relationships with the local American Indian groups through his participation in traditional gift giving ceremonies — gifts that are noted in Bosseron’s records. I am excited to use sources like these to create a clearer picture of these lesser know individuals.

Right now, my next steps are still very much the same:

  1. incorporating new sources (like Francis Bosseron’s Account Book) into my existing exhibit labels
  2. added a few additional collections items to my site which I found while finishing my research
  3. re-organizing my pages to reflect my individual-centered focus
  4. developing games or activities in outside software
  5. embedding the games into my Omeka site

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