Fortune as he may have looked in life. Painted
by William Westwood, a medical illustrator, based on Fortune's skeleton.
In the early 20th century, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury,
Connecticut was given the skeleton of an African American
man named Fortune, who had been enslaved in Waterbury
during the 18th century. His bones had been preserved
by the man who had enslaved him, a local doctor. The bones
remained in the doctor's family for four more generations,
until they were given to the museum.
Research has now revealed much about Fortunes life
and the world in which he lived. A team of anthropologists,
archeologists and historians, working with the museums
staff, have given us new insights into local history and
slavery in Connecticut, through their study of Fortunes
bones and historical documents.
This has been a community-based project with the members
of the museums African American History Project
Committee serving as a liaison with the public. They have
met with the researchers to discuss the new insights,
issues, and discoveries of Fortunes life and the
possible causes of his death.