After some crucial weeks of research and networking, twitter provided us with very important and necessary information on Jennie Gay, who we formerly thought was named Ginney. She was an African American cook in a hotel/tavern during the 1800s, which was very rare during that time period. I have been searching for information online and on twitter and finally received an informative response from the Springfield Museums twitter account. The Curator of Library and Archives discovered that Jennie Gay was born in 1777 and worked at the Parsons Tavern, beginning in the 1790s. Owned by Eleazer Williams, the tavern was a well-known establishment in Springfield, Massachusetts, which accommodated George Washington in 1789. It was very rare during this time period to have an African American woman employed as a chef in a tavern, which leads me to the question, who was Eleazer Williams? He had high profile clients staying at the tavern, such as James Monroe and George Washington, and he employed an African American woman to cook for them. Through the Springfield Museums twitter response, I learned that Williams was a very outgoing and energetic man, who was ahead of his time. Everyone who stayed in the tavern loved him because of his humor and kindness. This is most likely the reason why he did not mind hiring Jennie Gay, he was comfortable with his clients and felt that it was acceptable to hire an African American woman. I would, however, like to find out how he met Jennie and what made him choose her over the many other cooks available at the time. I will look deeper into this subject and I hope to receive a response at some point.
When searching the archives for information on women in sports at Suffield Academy, I came across a 1974 issue of The Bell. Dennis Kinne, the athletic director at the time, reached out to the female students, offering them opportunities to participate in male teams such as track & field and cross country. This is very interesting, especially when comparing this historical moment to Suffield Academy’s athletics today. With women very integrated in our culture today, both athletically and academically. I am interested in finding out more about how women integrated into the athletic aspects of life at Suffield Academy. There must have been certain issues and challenges that Suffield Academy had to overcome involving athletic integration that would be very cool to discover and bring to light. Researching this topic will also bring to light the issues of gender equality present during the 1970’s, and I am very interested in comparing that to Suffield today. Another aspect of Suffield Academy’s history that I am interested in learning about is title IX and how it affected the athletics teams. Did Suffield lose any teams or gain any teams after title IX was enacted? This is an aspect I am hoping to learn about along with co-educational teams becoming competitive on campus.