Reconstruction Memorial Research Operations



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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Let no irreverent hand change the home of Washington...”

Ann Pamela Cunningham, 1874



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

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

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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"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

"Slave Life" Tour

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

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Learn more about Gladys Quander Tancil



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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Expanded Digital Content

Mount Vernon launches a new website, significantly growing its digital presence. As part of this effort, new videos are produced to highlight true stories of the enslaved at Mount Vernon.

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Slavery at Mount Vernon Playlist

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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View Database

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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Region and Nation in American Histories of Race and Slavery Conference

The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington sponsored a major conference on the topic of slavery and race. The event drew more than 100 scholars from across the country to the estate for three days of papers, conversation, and learning.

Participants included senior scholars, like Lorena Walsh and Ira Berlin, whose decades of work has shed light on slavery, plantation management, and the history of the slave trade. Attendees also included museum educators and others involved in public history and rising scholars.

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Watch Panel Discussions

Enslaved People of Mount Vernon Tour

As a newer incarnation of the “Slave Life” tour, Mount Vernon begins offering the “Enslaved People of Mount Vernon” tour, which focuses on incorporating more individual stories of those enslaved at Mount Vernon. The information offered on this tour is the result of 30 years of study conducted by Mount Vernon specifically into the lives of enslaved people. In addition to offering this specialized tour, Mount Vernon also begins a more deliberate effort to integrate the stories of the enslaved into its general interpretation.

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Enslaved People of Mount Vernon Tour

Lives Bound Together Exhibition

A new exhibition opened 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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See the Virtual Exhibit

Union Farm

The MVLA enters into an agreement with the Fairfax County Park Authority allowing Mount Vernon archaeologists to perform research at the former site of an overseer’s residence and quarter for enslaved persons on Washington’s Union Farm. In 1799, the year of Washington’s death, there were 76 enslaved men, women, and children living at Union Farm.

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Learn More About Union Farm
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