“Assembling a Life: Sarah Tate’s Things”: Dr. Katie Knowles at the Kennedy-Douglass Center

For the 2023 Project Threadways Symposium, Dr. Katie Knowles delivered a keynote presentation at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in downtown Florence. Titled “Assembling a Life: Sarah Tate’s Things,” the presentation centers a collection of items that once belonged to a woman named Sarah Tate, who was born enslaved and died in 1915. Tate saved many items that were important to her—her mother’s scissors, a string of beads, her wedding dress, her daughter’s infant gown, her emancipation dress, and her Bible—which were collected by her white employer after her death and now sit in the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas. In this talk, Knowles considers the community of people surrounding these objects and their lifetime, from Sarah Tate’s relatives to the historians and curators who would go on to tell her story. 

Katie Knowles holds a PhD in history from Rice University. She has fifteen years of museum curatorial and collections experience, including doing work for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Thank you to Dr. Ansley Quiros for moderating this presentation and Q&A. 

This presentation was made possible through support from the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and the Alabama Humanities Alliance, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, the Alabama Humanities Alliance, or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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