During the summer of 2021, two interns from the University of Delaware worked on projects that will help tell the stories of African Americans who lived at the John Dickinson Plantation in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The plantation is the boyhood home of John Dickinson, known as the “Penman of the Revolution” and a framer and signer of the U.S. Constitution. Dickinson wrote eloquently about freedom and liberty while, at the same time, holding fellow human beings in bondage. The work of interns Olivia Boon and Samantha Side will help to further illuminate the lives of the enslaved and free Black people who lived, labored and died on Dickinson’s land.

Olivia Boon recently completed her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Delaware and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in the same subject at Pennsylvania State University. In the spring of 2021, as part of a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the University of Delaware’s professional degree program in landscape architecture, she and her fellow students in the Landscape Architecture Senior Capstone Course created concept designs, taken to the schematic-design phase, for an area of reflection at the John Dickinson Plantation where visitors will be able to contemplate the system of slavery that dictated everyday life at the site.

After evaluation by members of the Master Plan for the John Dickinson Plantation Working Group, Boon was selected to serve as the intern who worked with the group to complete the design-development drawings which will be incorporated into the plantation’s overall master plan.

Photo of Olivia Boon
Olivia Boon (she/her)

Samantha Side is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with a minor in biology, at the University of Delaware. During her 2021 internship, she worked with the division’s Engagement and Collections Team to learn about, and to process, catalog and research portions of an archeological collection excavated in 2000 from Block III at the John Dickinson Plantation. Side plans to expand her internship experience into a senior thesis for the coming academic year that will explore what the Block III collection can reveal about the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked at the plantation including aspects of identity, community and religion.

Photo of Samantha Side
Samantha Side (she/her)