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Remembering the Brooks Family: Recovering Black History in New England- with Gail Golec

March 27 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

March 27, 2024 

Online presentation 7-8:30 pm Registration is required…click here to register.

What happens when people are made invisible? How can they be brought back to life, at least in historical memory?

Archaeologist Gail Golec explores the burial grounds of southern New Hampshire and uncovers the powerful story of the Brooks family of Walpole, New Hampshire, and Westminster, Vermont – a Black family whose members lived and worked across a region normally considered entirely white.

The story centres on the 18th century, but their story begins in the 17th century, when Anglo-American families from Middleton, Connecticut, settled in the Middle Connecticut River Valley, and brought with them both enslaved and free Black people. The large, extended Brooks family lived in communities on both sides of the river for at least four generations.

Join Gail in her hunt to find out the history of this important Black family through archives, gravestones, church papers and more. The Brooks family is one of many researched through the Recovering Black History project organized by the Historical Society of Cheshire County (Keene, NH) and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture (Peterborough, NH). As well as the family story, Gail will highlight the collaboration between local historical societies, Brooks family descendants and the dozens of citizen archivists who made this newly revealed history possible.

Remembering the Brooks Family will be followed by a seminar in how to research the hidden stories in your community, led by the Historical Society of Cheshire County and Monadnock Historic Research Center. Date TBC.

Gail Golec has been a professional archaeologist for over 20 years, working primarily in the Middle Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. Currently, she is a project archaeologist with Monadnock Archaeological Consulting, LLC. She also writes and produces a history podcast called The Secret Life of Death https://www.thesecretlifeofdeath.com/, discussing the life and times of regular, often ignored, people through the lens of historic New England cemeteries. Since 2020, she has been a citizen archivist with the Recovering Black History of the Monadnock Region research project, sponsored through the Historical Society of Cheshire County (NH) https://hsccnh.org/ and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture https://monadnockcenter.org/.

Image: Henry Woods’ woodworking shop at Westminster Station, Vermont, ca.1895. No one in the woodworking crew shown in this photo has been identified, but based on the location and date, it seems likely that the two Black men are either Nathaniel/Nathan Brooks (1869-1953), Frank LH Brooks (1875-1938), Herbert Williams Brooks (1867-1897), George Albert Williams (1867-1897) or Wallace Williams (1873-1947). Credit: Westminster Historical Society

Presented in partnership with: Partnership of Historic Bostons, Secret Life of Death – Podcast and the Historical Society of Cheshire County



March 27
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


Virtual Event


Historical Society of Cheshire County
Secret Life of Death
Partnership of Historic Bostons