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Virtual Lecture - The History Saga of Humans and the Environment at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Date: Thursday, August 20, 2020

Location: Zoom Virtual Lecture

Time: 7 pm - 8 pm

This story is about strategic location on a great estuary, human interactions with rich natural resources, and the founding history of the United States. It is an evolving story built around the science of archaeology and the inferences of oral and written history for the 2,650-acre campus of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), 5 miles south of Annapolis and 25 miles east of Washington, DC. It relies upon volunteer citizen scientists who have been piecing together a fabric of place and time that is entirely local, yet it forms a quilt of context for America today.

The story extends back 3,000 years to the earliest people who gathered oysters from the Bay and developed an elaborate culture here, and it continues to the present with surprising new discoveries almost weekly. It is filled with intriguing characters and deeds of all kinds – war heroes and bravery, horrible acts of genocide and enslavement, tremendous resilience of character, acts of great generosity and good luck, pirates and farmers, philanthropists and eccentric scientists, and ordinary people who lived here through the centuries and built the diversity of the American experience.

At the core of the story are two families who lived on the property for nearly 300 years: the Sellmans, who first built on the site in 1735 and lived for most of 200 years in a house that SERC is now restoring, and which is the oldest in-situ building in the Smithsonian Institution, and the Kirkpatrick-Howats, who farmed and forested the land as stewards for nearly 100 years, and who were pivotal to establishing SERC. Living amongst and adjacent to these families are the Black families of slaves and freed people who created parallel cultures and institutions of pride. This story is accessible to all through the Smithsonian.

Registration Required.

Cost: Free


This lecture will be offered virtually by Zoom, an online video conferencing platform. Upon registration, you will be sent the link for the video conference to join on the evening of the lecture. If you do not receive your confirmation email after you register, please check your Spam folder, or email Carolyn Fifer at To learn more about Zoom and to download the app to your computer, visit the Zoom website.

Presented in Partnership with: VL-New-SERC-logo-2019---2


VL-SERC-Anson-HinesAbout Our Presenter: Dr. Anson “Tuck” Hines has served as director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) since 2005 and as Principal Investigator since 1979. SERC studies human impacts and natural processes in coastal ecosystems. Based 25 miles from Washington DC on Chesapeake Bay, SERC advises wise management of natural resources around the world with research, training and public programs in global change, pollution, land use, biodiversity, and fisheries.  Dr. Hines advances land conservation and historic preservation for a 1000-hectare site on the Rhode River sub-estuary as a model for research, professional training and public engagement. SERC leads sustainable land use and innovative facilities master planning, including construction of the $57-million Mathias Laboratory, which received the 2015 Presidential Award for Sustainability. Dr. Hines has led a diverse array of grants and published 160 articles on: effects of coastal power plants; sea otters and kelp forest ecology; long-term ecological change in Chesapeake Bay; marine food webs; fisheries and aquaculture; biological invasions of coastal ecosystems; and the biology of crabs around the world.


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