Third Thursday Webinar

From Slavery at Hampton Plantation, MD to Freedom in York, PA. – April 15th, 7:00 pm – Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, PhD, University of Maryland College Park

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What is the connection between the Ridgely family of Hampton Plantation in Towson, MD and the Batty family of York, PA? Between 2016 and 2020, Cheryl LaRoche was the Principal Investigator leading a research team investigating the lives and tracing the families of the 300 enslaved African Americans freed after the death of Maryland’s 15th Governor, Charles Carnan Ridgley in 1829. Among those 300, was George Batty, who settled in the southern part of York County with his wife and children. George found work in the iron ore furnaces in York – work that he had done on the Ridgely plantation. His descendants are still living in York County. In addition to the Batty family, evidence also emerged of the important role York played on the path to freedom for those escaping slavery.


Dr. Cheryl LaRoche uses African American history to inspire audiences and spark new conversations around the uses of history in the present. She combines inspiration, motivation and deep historical insights to deliver presentations, lectures and speeches that help audiences rethink what they know about history and why it matters. She brings new understanding to the commonplace, and a fresh approach to the effective messages that can be delivered using African American history.

For more than a decade, archaeologist Dr. Cheryl LaRoche has been researching and physically exploring the landscapes of 18th and 19th century free Black communities, their churches, cemeteries and institutions, and their relationship to the Underground Railroad.

She is a historical and archaeological consultant who combines law, history, oral history, archaeology, geography, and material culture to define nineteenth century African American cultural landscapes and its relationship to escape from slavery. She often works at the sometimes contentious interface between the public and scholars, professionals and municipalities.

She has physically walked historic landscapes from New Hampshire to Missouri to Canada. Her first book Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance was published at the beginning of 2014 by the University of Illinois Press. In 2011, The Society for Historical Archaeology awarded LaRoche the John L. Cotter Award for her exemplary work in bringing a multidisciplinary approach to the study of African American archaeology.

Dr. LaRoche teaches in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She lectures on a wide range of historical topics; her work has taken her across the country, from New England to the banks of the Mississippi River and beyond. She has consulted for the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, the African Meeting House in Boston and Nantucket, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, and a number of other historical sites and projects. She has worked for cultural resource firms such as URS Corporation and John Milner Associates. She was the cultural heritage specialist for the President’s House archaeological site for URS and the National Park Service in Philadelphia. Most recently she served as a project historian for the Smithsonian’s newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Dr. LaRoche was one of the authors of the National Significance of the Harriet Tubman Historic Area for the National Park Service and she was the lead author for “Resistance to Slavery in Maryland: Strategies for Freedom” for the Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service. She worked as an archaeological conservator for the African Burial Ground Project in New York City where she was responsible for conserving the grave goods from the burials.

Event Details

Third Thursday Webinar

  • Thursday, April 15
  • 7 pm
  • Register online here  You will receive an email confirmation with the ZOOM link.  Please check your spam/junk folder for the confirmation.
  • If you are having trouble registering online, please call us at 717-848-1587 to reserve your spot


Upcoming Events

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April 13, 2021

Members Behind the Scenes


April 15, 2021

Third Thursday Webinar


April 21, 2021

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