Phase 1 Exhibit

Archive for Racial & Cultural Healing

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Exhibit Credits ›

We welcome you to our ARCH, a record of a thriving center of Black prosperity. Discover the history of what happened here.

The Chipman Center is host to the first local chapter of the ARCH movement — an emergent national network of Archives for Racial & Cultural Healing. Each local ARCH in the movement is a digital archive that documents and preserves a Black community's journey, with the goal of driving forward a racial healing and transformation process with the white institutions and state apparatus which have historically disenfranchised it.

This Chipman ARCH preserves the stories of survivors and descendants in Black Georgetown. Please browse our exhibit, which reaffirms that these histories belong to our community! Although Black Georgetown has intentionally been attacked through lynching, silenced by intimidation, and nearly erased by urban displacement, the story of Black Georgetown was never lost to its keepers. It is woven from joy, terror, pain, kinship, and persistence.

Wicomico County, Maryland

diagram of the 48 lower U.S. States with the Deep South shown in red, and Maryland indicated in yellow
Maryland is a border state of the American South and has historically maintained a distinctly southern identity—especially along the Eastern Shore.

vintage postcard shows an illustration of charming rooftops of a town with a blue lake in the distancel
A postcard for Salisbury, Maryland, dating from the the early 1900s. John Jacob Collection Postcards, Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University.

Wicomico County was not established until 1867, after the end of the Civil War. It was carved out from portions of the two main Eastern Shore counties: Worcester and Somerset. The town of Salisbury became its county seat.

Worcester County had been a major producer of fruits, vegetables, grains, and lumber, so Wicomico County followed suit as a significant producer of fruits and vegetables. By the 1890s, though, Wicomico County emerged as the state’s preeminent livestock and poultry producer.

Black Salisbury

The Black community historically consisted of four neighborhoods. On the east side of downtown stood Georgetown and Cuba — though, locally, the two were known collectively as Georgetown. These two surrounded Humphreys Lake, a pond created by a dam located on Division Street. But in 1909 the dam broke. The lake was drained, and the dam removed. The former lake bottom was sold off and became known as Cuba.

Georgetown was one of the most prominent concentrations of Black businesses in Wicomico County, if not throughout the lower Eastern Shore. Even those African Americans who lived two streets outside the boundaries of the Black community proper were still within walking distance of their church and their neighborhood Black-owned businesses.

Yet unlike many segregated cities, Salisbury’s racial borders were not so clear-cut:

“Where in other communities, some black neighborhoods would be segregated to quite separate locations, Georgetown experienced a closer proximity. Georgetown residences and businesses were located on the same street as white residences and businesses. White and black properties were adjacent or occupied opposite sides of the street.”

—Linda Duyer, local historian

This is Phase I of our exhibit.

In this initial launch (June 2023), we are making the following sections available. The content has been written and assembled by scholars, students, and community members of Georgetown.