Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Exhibit at Atlanta History Center Explores Slavery and Enslaved People in America Through the Lens of Jefferson’s Monticello

Beginning February 1, 2013, the Atlanta History Center hosts the groundbreaking traveling exhibition Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: How the Word is Passed Down. The exhibition explores the lives of enslaved families on Jefferson’s well-known plantation as well as the powerful stories of their descendants brought to light through documentary study, oral history, and genealogy.

A page from a record book listing the names of Jefferson's 
slaves over the years. They numbered roughly 600 in his lifetime.

The exhibition was organized by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and features objects from Monticello’s collection as well as artifacts from archaeological excavations at Jefferson’s Virginia plantation -- the best-documented, best-preserved and best-studied in North America. 

 The headstone of Priscilla Hemmings, member of a slave family.

The exhibition provides a rare and detailed look at the lives of six enslaved families living at Monticello. Visitors will come to know them through their personal belongings, Jefferson’s records and belongings, and via Getting Word, Monticello’s oral history project. 

Toothbrushes, thimbles, a writing slate and a pencil 
are among slaves' belongings unearthed at Monticello.

Exhibition visitors will see enslaved people as individuals―their first and last names, family connections, values, and achievements. 

 Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed celebrate the opening 
of the new exhibit, Slavery at Monticello

Visitors will also see examples of deep marital and family connections, religious faith, striving for literacy and education, and tenacity in striving to make the words of the Declaration of Independence a reality. The exhibit is on display through July 7, 2013. This exhibition is free to members; included in the cost of general admission for nonmembers. For more information about this exhibit or to purchase admission tickets, please visit

*Photo credit: Atlanta History Center, and New York Times
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