by Michael McGuigan

Click here to learn about the Bannister Community Art Project

 Welcome, I'm glad your found your way here. Learning about the Bannisters has been a labor of love and I'm happy to share what I have discovered. Please feel free to explore, study and use the material within these pages. My only ask is that you acknowledge the effort that has been put into these pages by crediting the various individuals whose work is represented here.

Congratulations to Class of 2024 Senior Film Major Angel Sweeney!  His Documentary Film The Bannister Project is an Official Selection of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival!!!  (April 4th - 7th)  Angel’s film is anchored in the seldom-told story of Edward and Chistiana Bannister, two remarkable Black residents of late 1800’s Providence. 

“My projects capture authentic experiences from my community, raising awareness of social issues and inspiring student audiences. With the help of Historical Perspectives Educator Mike McGuigan and Filmmaker in Residence Nick Marcoux, I have interviewed members of the Providence Art Club, RI Black Storytellers, and Stages of Freedom to gain insight into the experiences of Edward Mitchell Bannister and his wife Christiana Carteaux Bannister in achieving their life accomplishments.” - Angel Sweeney

Angel and Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (TAPA’) work on The Bannister Project were funded in part by the Rhode Island Foundation and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. The work was a collaboration between TAPA, the Rhode Island Black Storytellers, and Stages of Freedom, and culminated in a larger, city-wide celebration of the Bannisters of which TAPA was a major sponsor. The film has received wide acclaim by the greater Providence community.

This annotated bibliography is the result of a collaboration between myself, the Bannister Community Art Project. What started out as a simple partnership to prepare some teacher resources about the Bannisters and the time period they lived in, ended with, not only teacher resources, but this bibliography. In preparation for assembling some teacher resources, I was curious to see what already existed regarding the Bannisters. My assumption was that there was very little. I was wrong. 

While there is not an abundance of primary source material about Edward or Christiana’s early lives, there is a significant amount of material that has been produced about them as artists, entrepreneurs, abolitionists, and activists.

​I did not include every item written by or about the Bannisters. In fact, one clear area not included in this bibliography is correspondence from the Bannisters or from folks corresponding with or about the Bannisters. The simple reason for this omission is because I could find none. Newspaper articles are another area where I exercised editorial discretion. For example, I did not include every article that mentions the Bannisters in the Providence Journal. There are many announcements of exhibitions and events that say the same thing and offer no new information. I chose not to include the repeats. Unless otherwise noted, all images are used under Creative Commons licensing or with permission from the Providence Art Club.

I am deeply grateful for the contributions of Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Nancy Gaucher Thomas, and Elizabeth Zimmerman from the Providence Art Club; Jennifer Davis-Allison; Victoria Gao, Director of the Bannister Gallery and Exhibitions at Rhode Island College; Marisa Bourgoin, Head of Reference Services, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution; Britni Gorman, Deputy Archivist, City of Providence; Barnaby Evans, Creator and Artistic Director of Waterfire; Rhode Island historian Tim Cranston; art collector Nick Bruno; and Edward Shein, owner of American Art Search in Seekonk, Mass.

Finally, very little published information about the Bannisters should be considered definitive. There are contradictions, inconsistencies, and  myths galore in the literature about the Bannisters. I do maintain a digital library of newspaper articles, academic journals, some books, government records, and miscellaneous materials about the Bannisters. Access to this digital library is provided upon request. 


This project was funded in part by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Rhode Island Foundation