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The Story of “Inventing Disease” via the Eli Whitney Grave Marker in Grove Street Cemetery
June 21 @ 8:00 am - 10:30 am
This short visual presentation offers the story of “Inventing Disease” in the first half of the nineteenth century, revolving around the figure of Eli Whitney, well known for the cotton gin and for his interchangeable gun parts factory on the Mill River. Whitney’s grave marker and the subsequent memorializing and honoring of fellow white industrialists such as Charles Goodyear, whose own grave marker is also in Grove Street Cemetery, created a pantheon of political and social power that extended all the way to City Hall in nineteenth century New Haven. In the midst of this, marginalized African Americans such as William Lanson, whose grave site is currently unknown, but who contributed equally to New Haven’s growth and industry and was also part of the “inventing disease” present in the growing city were not written into local or national history. This presentation is part of a series of public art and public history projects intended to elevate knowledge of William Lanson and uses grave markers as one of the tools through which city identity is created.