Keynote Speaker: Dr. Timothy Walker
Timothy D. Walker (B.A., Hiram College, 1986; M.A., Ph.D., Boston University, 2001) is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he serves on the Executive Board of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture. He is a scholar of maritime history, colonial overseas expansion, and trans-oceanic slave trading, and is an Affiliated Researcher of the Centro de História d’Aquém e d’Além-Mar (CHAM); Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Walker was a visiting professor at the Universidade Aberta in Lisbon (1994-2003) and at Brown University (2010). He is the recipient of a Fulbright dissertation fellowship to Portugal (1996-1997), a doctoral research fellowship from the Portuguese Camões Institute (1995-1996), and a NEH-funded American Institute for Indian Studies Professional Development Grant for post-doctoral work in Goa, India (2000-2002). Walker has also been named a fellow of the Portuguese Orient Foundation (Fundação Oriente), the Luso-American Development Foundation (2003 & 2008), and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (2010-2011). In 2018, Walker was appointed a Guest Investigator of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, drawing historic climate data from archived whaling logbooks, Portuguese colonial, and other maritime documentation. He has taught maritime history aboard numerous traditionally-rigged sailing vessels, is a contributing faculty member of the Munson Institute of Maritime Studies, and Director of the NEH “Landmarks in American History” workshops series, titled “Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad,” (2011–2022).
Title: “Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad”
Description: Dr. Walker’s “Sailing to Freedom” presentation will highlight little-known stories and describe the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad, including the impact of African Americans’ paid and unpaid waterfront labor. This talk will reconsider and contextualize how escapes were managed along the East Coast, moving from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland to safe harbor in northern cities such as Philadelphia, New York, New Bedford, and Boston. While scholarship on the Underground Railroad has focused almost exclusively on overland escape routes from the antebellum South, this new research expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea and what the journey looked like for many African Americans.