The Way We Worked

In the spring of 2017, Kent County, Maryland paid tribute to the workers who have made our community what it is today. Inspired by the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition, The Way We Worked – which traced the contributions of American workers across the county in the over the past 150 years – our local institutions, organizations, businesses and individuals told stories of the Way We Worked in Kent County. Lectures, discussions, exhibits, musical performances and dramatic presentations were featured across the county, from rural farmlands to waterfront venues to in-town churches and stores.

Sumner Hall presented its local exhibition – The Black Work Experience in Kent County – on the first floor of the building. It included the following sections: (1) Free and Enslaved: the story the work of free blacks and slaves; (2) Founders and Soldiers: the documentation of the 471 African American soldiers and sailors from Kent County who served in the Civil War and the 28 who founded G. A. R. Post #25; (3) Tools of the Trades: an exhibit of antique farming, fishing and household tools contributed by community members and curated by a class of Washington College students; (4) Oral Work Histories: video and audio recordings compiled by high school and college students. The C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, Sumner Hall’s principal partner in bringing the Smithsonian to Kent County, produced three events: (1) a Keynote Lecture by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America; (2) Walking Tour Though Working Chestertown which detailed historic work sites; and (3) Choppin’ at the Shop, a multimedia work of music, oral history, the art of conversation, and photography exploring the lives of black Americans who have lived and worked in Kent County.

Ancillary Programs and Exhibits took place across the county. During three months of programming, Kent County witnessed an explosion of 39 free public humanities and arts programs presented by more than 20 community partners. Hosted by local churches, businesses, storefronts, galleries, environmental groups, and government agencies, these programs included lectures, exhibitions, poster contests, book discussions, school field trips, and local history projects.


Kent County Population: 20,000
Chestertown Population: 5,252
Public School Enrollment: 2,106
Number of Volunteers Supporting Activities of Sumner Hall and Starr Center: 145
Number of Volunteer Hours contributed by the 145 Volunteers: 3,355
Value of Volunteer Hours: $74,280
Attendance at Exhibition & Events Produced by Sumner Hall & Starr Center: 2,318
Attendance at all Way We Worked Events: 15,778


Click here for the full report of The Way we Worked and its impact on our community.
Click here for the full press release from Maryland Humanities.
Click here for education resources.