Reconstruction Memorial Research Operations

1800

1860

The Association Takes Control of Mount Vernon

The MVLA takes control of the property. Founder Ann Pamela Cunningham insists on preserving the estate as Washington knew it, including the outbuildings where enslaved people worked and lived.

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1874

Let no irreverent hand change the home of Washington…”

Ann Pamela Cunningham, 1874

1900

1929

An Early Memorial

The MVLA places a memorial stone at the site of the slave cemetery near Washington’s tomb. Annie Burr Jennings, Vice Regent for Connecticut, pays for the marker. While the reference to “faithful colored servants” embodies a nostalgic view of slavery, the marker represented an early effort to acknowledge the lives of those who labored on the estate.

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the slave memorial
1950

Greenhouse Slave Quarter Reconstruction

The MVLA reconstructs the greenhouse slave quarter, which had been destroyed by fire in the 19th century. In 1962, one interior bunkroom is refurnished and opened to the public, the first time visitors to Mount Vernon can learn about the private lives of enslaved people.

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greenhouse slave quarters
1983

Slave Memorial by Howard University

After the 1929 marker is found to be overgrown and nearly invisible, local activists lead efforts to place a new memorial at the slave cemetery site. Architecture students from Howard University design the monument. In 1990, the service organization Black Women United for Action begins the tradition of an annual wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial.

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1994

"Slavery in the Age of Washington" Conference

Mount Vernon sponsors a two-day conference entitled “Slavery in the Age of Washington.” Papers from the conference are published in 2001.

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washington & slavery
1995

"Slave Life" Tour

Mount Vernon begins offering a “Slave Life” tour focused on the estate’s enslaved people. One of the staff members to lead the tour is Gladys Quander Tancil, a relative of Nancy Quander, an enslaved woman freed by Washington’s will. Tancil is the first African American historical interpreter at Mount Vernon.

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2000

2010

Greenhouse Slave Quarter Refurnishing

The greenhouse slave quarter is refurnished based on ongoing research and an additional bunkroom opens to visitors.

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2014

Database of Enslaved People

Mount Vernon establishes a database compiling all references to enslaved people at Mount Vernon and other Washington properties. More than 900 individuals have been identified, with more than 500 at Mount Vernon.

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2015

Oral Histories with Descendants

In conjunction with the exhibition Lives Bound Together, Mount Vernon conducts interviews with descendants of enslaved people in order to record their family stories.

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lives bound together exhibition
2016

Lives Bound Together Exhibition

A new exhibition opens at the Donald W. Reynolds Museum at Mount Vernon on October 1, 2016. Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.

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