CRL Writers Collective

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The goal of the Writers’ Collective is to provide a supportive, interactive and interdisciplinary environment to support the creative writing of scholars associated with the Cobb Research Laboratory. It is the writing mission of the collective to provide scientifically valid, historically credible, and interesting books and materials to educate young children. Through storytelling, the Writers’ Collective will help elucidate the untold hardships and triumphs of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans in 17th and 18th century colonial New York and 19th and 20th century historic Washington, DC. These stories are based on the lives of the people interned in the African Burial Ground (ABG) located in lower Manhattan, New York City or remains donated to the Cobb Collection (CC) from the Washington DC region.

The stories of these New World Africans are largely overlooked and underrepresented in the literature for children and young adults. It is the mission of the Writers’ Collective to highlight the innovations, skills, trials, resilience, and sense of community present among these African and African-Americans that ultimately enabled them to survive despite dreadful and clearly disadvantageous circumstances. To achieve this, the Writers’ Collective will conduct systematic research on the lives of the diverse population living in colonial New York and historic Washington DC during the periods in question and translate these into accessible literature.

Our primary source of scientific and historical data come from the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory volumes on the African Burial Ground in New York; a six-piece collection of information on the historical site sponsored by the National Park Service. To create the stories, insights from these scholarly volumes are combined with recent scientific information and historical records on the various diseases and disorders evident in the skeletal remains of ABG individuals and from the clinical records compiled by Dr. W. Montague Cobb for the individuals of the Cobb Collection. Insights from these scholarly volumes and clinical records are combined with recent scientific information and historical records on the various diseases and disorders evident in the skeletal and dental remains and the historical context within which these individuals existed.

Using our creativity, the Writers’ Collective will be responsible for reproducing historically accurate, yet fictional accounts of the daily experiences and adventures of referenceable ABG and CC individuals. It is our goal to use these diverse, fictionalized accounts to promote core elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to children and young adults while stimulating their interest in this significant period of American history.


The W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory (CRL) Writers
Collective (WC) is open to anyone affiliated with the CRL and familiar with its 400 years of skeletal and dental resources on African American biological history. Authors are required to be CITI certified at the time they have access to the personalized information on the individuals from the Cobb Collection since these clinical records also include their names and addresses. No similar CITI requirement is required for the African Burial Ground materials from New York since these are not personally identifiable.
Authors interested in contributing to the Writers’ Collective should
submit a recent resumé and a brief writing sample for CRL WC Research Associate consideration. This should be sent to:

Current Memebers

  • Fatimah Jackson, Faculty Advisor
  • Mariam Mohammed
  • Adetomiwa Victor Owoseni
  • Latifa Jackson
  • Esohe Irabor
  • Carter Clinton
  • Nicholas Guthrie
  • Shihyun Kim
  • Obinna Asawabelem
  • Rita Okolo