Winter Fair Masters Class History Seminar: The Hidden Town Project: Revealing the History of Enslaved and Free People of African Descent in the Town of Salem

Saturday, December 28, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM James A. Gray, Jr. Auditorium, Old Salem Visitor Center








Martha Hartley, Director of Moravian Research will lead this seminar.

Old Salem Museums & Gardens has begun a groundbreaking initiative called the Hidden Town Project to research and reveal the history of a community of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans who once lived in Salem, North Carolina.  Our first effort has been to transform a room above the Tavern kitchen into the “Room of Meditation & Reflection on the Enslaved in the Town of Salem, NC.”

These histories involve the complicated use of slavery and enslaved people to build the town and their contribution to the mercantile prosperity of Salem. The Hidden Town Project will track the effects and legacy of enslaved people from the inception of Salem itself in 1766 through the Jim Crow Era and into the 21st Century.

Although of great debate within the Moravian community, the practice of slavery slowly increased, even against the town’s regulations. At its height, there were approximately 16o enslaved men, women, and children in Salem. Some lived in their owner’s homes while others lived in about 40 slave dwellings in town. Following the Civil War, freedmen established the first school for black children in the county and established a neighborhood across Salem Creek, now called “Happy Hill.”

Through continued research, Old Salem, Inc. is dedicated to revealing the history of a hidden town of African enslaved and freedman people living in Salem—where they lived, worked, and who they were as human beings.