Boston’s Tea & Salem’s Tree: Two Early Black American Women in Poetry


Sat, Oct 7, 2023 - Sun, Oct 8, 2023    
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Sites
71 Somerset Street, Somerville, Somerset, 08876

Event Type

Encounter Two Early Black American Women in Poetry in Boston’s Tea & Salem’s Tree as part of Somerset County’s Weekend Journey Through the Past.


Boston’s Tea: Explore the revolutionary words and world of Phillis Wheatley, early Black American woman poet and correspondent of George Washington, on tour of Washington’s Headquarters at Wallace House State Historic Site. 250 years ago, Phillis Wheatley traveled from Boston to London in the summer of 1773, taking in Great Britain and America unknowingly on the verge of the American Revolution, and published Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book published by an African American and the first book of poetry published by an American woman.


The first shipment of Phillis Wheatley’s book of poems arrived in Boston aboard the Dartmouth with one of the shipments of East India Company tea taken by the Sons of the Liberty in the Boston Tea Party. Learn about the five historic blends of tea tossed into the harbor 250 years ago, and help pack a “Jersey Fresh” shipment of tea to dispatch to Boston as New Jersey’s contribution to the 250th anniversary reenactment of the Boston Tea Party in December.


Salem’s Tree: Visit our seedling of New Jersey’s historic Salem Oak after its first full year of growth since planted by the Borough of Somerville at last year’s Weekend Journey in October 2022. Through the branches and leaves of the Salem Oak, uncover the poetry of Esther “Hetty” Saunders, an early Black New Jersey woman poet buried under the boughs of the original Salem Oak at the Salem Friends Burial Ground in Salem County.


Sunday only 1 p.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m. storyteller Queen Nur shares the life and poetry of Hetty Saunders in a premiere storytelling performance.


Made possible by funds from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Historical Commission.


Queen Nur’s performances are sponsored by the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Association as part of a series “Early Black American Women in Words” observing the 250th anniversary in 2023 of Black American poet Phillis Wheatley’s journey to London in the summer of 1773 and publication of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This series is supported by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Find the full schedule of open houses and special events for Somerset County’s Weekend Journey Through the Past: