Agency-wide Projects: ARP-Organizations (Preservation-related)

Period of Performance

10/1/2021 - 9/30/2023

Funding Totals

$375,482.00 (approved)
$375,482.00 (awarded)

The "Getting Word" Oral History Project at Monticello: "An Archive of Black Freedom"

FAIN: ZPA-283739-22

Monticello (Charlottesville, VA 22902-0316)
Gary Sandling (Project Director: May 2021 to October 2022)
Andrew Davenport (Project Director: October 2022 to present)

The retention of oral history project management, archival, and interpretation staff and a historian to create a new digital platform for an African-American oral history project on the descendants of the enslaved at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

The "Getting Word" African American Oral History Project is a unique archive of oral histories and associated research files of families whose ancestors were enslaved by Thomas Jefferson, or who lived at Monticello after his death during the Levy period of ownership (1836–1923). The project documents the history – and humanity – of the people who lived in slavery on the Monticello mountaintop, and chronicles a struggle for freedom across generations of descendants, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. One family descendant cites "Getting Word" as an important "archive of Black Freedom" stretching from Jefferson's lifetime to the present day. The work to migrate the oral history archive onto an accessible digital platform has been suspended due to the pandemic, weakening Monticello’s ability to commemorate the nation’s 250th as we wish and we must, with the fullest possible picture of our nation’s founding -- through the lens of those denied the promise of the Declaration.