Curious Objects: An Armchair’s Astonishing Provenance, with Tiffany Momon

Benjamin Miller Curious Objects

This month, Ben speaks with Tiffany Momon, visiting assistant professor at Sewanee in Tennessee, where she assists with the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, and founder of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive, a scholarly resource that explores the contributions that African Americans have made to the material culture of the United States. Tiffany and Ben focus their attention on a chair made by enslaved craftsmen at Leonidas Polk’s Leighton Plantation in Louisiana, and Tiffany offers tips on what institutions and researchers can do to ensure they’re telling the full story of the decorative arts.

Cypress armchair made by enslaved craftsmen at Leonidas Polk’s Leighton Plantation, Thibodaux, Louisiana, 1840–1850s. Sewanee, The University of the South, Tennessee, William R. Laurie University Archives and Special Collections; photograph courtesy of Tiffany Momon.

Tiffany Momon is a scholar, Mellow Fellow, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Southern Studies at Sewanee, The University of the South. Momon earned a PhD in public history from Middle Tennessee State University, where she held positions with the Center for Historic Preservation. As a public historian, Momon’s work focuses on exploring African American placemaking throughout the southeast, documenting cemeteries, churches, schools, and lodges. Her most recent scholarship centers the experiences of enslaved and free African American craftspeople through the digital humanities project the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (