Susan Harvey is a direct descendant of the Morse family, first settlers of Newbury in 1635. Her interest in learning about the effects of the transatlantic slave trade on Newburyport and Massachusetts stems from her teaching United States History at Littleton High School in Littleton, MA, where she also resides. The research she conducted at the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center represents the core material used for her master’s thesis in history from Fitchburg State University: Slavery in Massachusetts: A descendant of early settlers investigates the connections in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Mrs. Harvey believes we have been asking the wrong questions about slavery in New England because we had no slave plantations here as existed in the southern states. It is our economic ties to the transatlantic slave trade that implicates New England in the monumental tragedy that took the lives of millions of human beings and, in doing so, formed the basis of America’s economy. As she approached the topic of northern slavery, her initial questions were: was my family in Newburyport involved in the slave trade, and if so, how? These are questions that people all over New England are beginning to ask themselves as new information comes to light and new scholarship on the topic of northern slavery is published.