BFW16 Karolyn Smardz Frost

Karolyn Smardz Frost is an archaeologist, historian and award-winning author.  In 1985, her excavation of Canada’s first Underground Railroad site made history.  She spent more than 20 years researching the lives of freedom-seekers Thornton and Lucie Blackburn.  Their 2007 biography, I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, became the first book on African Canadian history to win the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

Karolyn co-authored The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto! (2002) and co-edited both The Archaeology Education Handbook (2000) and Ontario’s African-Canadian Past (2008). Her most recent volume is A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland (Wayne State University Press, 2016), co-edited with Veta Smith Tucker. It features regional contributors Irene Moore Davis, Bryan Prince, Kimberly Simmons, Barbara Hughes-Smith. Carol E. Mull and Roy Finkenbine, and also Afua Cooper, Margaret Washington, Adrienne Shadd, Louis DeCaro, and Larry McClelland.

Karolyn’s upcoming volume, Steal Away Home, tells a fascinating tale of the life-long friendship between a fugitive slave woman and the Southern belle whose legal property she had once been. It will be published by HarperCollins Canada in January 2017.

A part-time professor at Acadia University, Karolyn is senior research fellow for African Canadian History at York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute.  She served as the Canadian Bicentennial Visiting Professor at Yale University in 2012-2013.

Karolyn is a Toronto native, but these days she divides her time between her Wolfville home and a cottage overlooking Nova Scotia’s beautiful Mahone Bay.


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