Cornelia Dayton Recovers Missing Pieces of the Lives of Phillis Wheatley and John Peters in Middleton

UConn Today has highlighted the recent and monumental research of UConn History Professor Cornelia Dayton. Professor Dayton has made groundbreaking recoveries into the lives of prominent African-born writer, Phillis Wheatley, and her free husband, John Peters. For years, scholars were unsure about where Wheatley and Peters had gone after they left Boston. Using legal papers from Essex County, Massachusetts, Dayton uncovered that Phillis Wheatley and John Peters spent 3 years in Middleton, MA, on a farm where Peters had been enslaved. For Dayton, this work challenges the myth that nothing, or very little, exists about the lives of people of color in New England.  Dayton’s research proves that in following “the small details,” we can arrive at new understandings of freedom, race, and gender that complicate what we think we know about the individual lives of people of color.

A job well done! Be sure to stay tuned for more developments, including a website! In the meantime, read the award-winning article in the September 2021 New England Quarterly and check out the @Wheatley_Peters Twitter!




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