Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Botanical History of Yams in the Caribbean

provision ground image.jpg

The purpose of this exhibit is to share the botanical history of yams, tracing them from their beginning in Africa, throughout their journey across the Atlantic during the Middle Passage, to the provision grounds in the Caribbean. It is my hope that this exhibit will provide people with the ability to see the way that texts about ground provisions (in this case, the yam) allow readers to unearth information about the lives of slaves from various parts of the Caribbean, a task that is not necessarily easy while reading through the text of colonists (who tend only to focus on the lives and perspectives of other colonists).


“The history of life is inextricably related to the history of soil” David Montgomery, Dirt


Sweet Potato Emails: Yam Migration and the Origins of a Holiday Favorite -Ryan Travis

sweet potato emails.pdf

I had no idea where this class would take me this season when my Professor stated we would be researching ground provisions in the Caribbean, my mind instantly went to the sweet potato. My wife and I eat them all the time as you would a baked potato and we prefer sweet potato fries over regular fries. 

When we began looking at recipes I thought of my wife's recipe for bourbon sweet potatoes that is a huge hit around the holidays. My mind went to the idea of my wife's email to a friend of her aunt's about the dish we had at a family gathering. The idea of tracing a recipe was intriguing but after I proposed my idea my professor stated; "But those are yams." and she was right, the can clearly says yams on the label. So then I began researching yams and what I learned would blow the roof off the ground provisions industry....I'm just kidding. Shh....don't tell anyone...there's no such thing as American yams.

As a matter of fact, a lot of people have no idea what a yam is and why it is vastly different than a sweet potato. So that's part of what this exhibit is, tracing a recipe and what the heck is a yam. Along the way, I also answer the question of how marshmallows and yams, I'm mean sweet potatoes got together in American cooking. 

I hope you enjoy my exhibit and also visit another exhibit here by my classmate Hannah who also explores more about the yam. 


sweet potato emails

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