Using archaeology to influence the tangible representation of the enslaved on the landscape

In November of 2019 we convened experts, descendants, and thought leaders to discuss memorialization at James Madison’s Montpelier. The site of over 300 enslaved persons, Montpelier is often referred to as the home of the Constitution, yet no proper physical homage to the lives and labor of the enslaved community exists on the property.


We endeavor to unearth, research, and tell the untold stories of the people who were enslaved at at Montpelier and along the corridor between Montpelier and Monticello, creating the Arc of Enslaved Communities. 

The polygons on the map represented are ancestral (plantation) land boundaries for the communities they were at their greatest size (in numbers of enslaved individuals).The points are the actual Black settlement locations for the region and span both pre and post emancipation. These settlements took the form of villages for the enslaved (eg. South Yard, Mulberry Row), freedman farms (Gilmore, Brownsville), freedman communities (Jacksontown, TIbbstown).
Our goal is to continue to partner with archaeologists to discover and include more ancestral boundaries and settlement locations, and include detailed information about each, such that each space has a distinct and robust digital footprint.