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In 2014, Mount Vernon's archaeologists began a multi-year project to learn more about the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon is conducting an ongoing archaeological survey of the Slave Cemetery on the estate. From an archaeological standpoint, the best way to commemorate the lives of those free and enslaved individuals who lived and died at Mount Vernon is to thoroughly document the locations of individual burials on the landscape. Therefore, the primary goal of this project is to create a map that shows exactly where individuals are interred on the ridge just southwest of Washington’s tomb.

How many individuals call this cemetery their final resting place? What are the boundaries of the site? How are burials arranged within those boundaries? To ensure utmost respect is paid to the people interred in the African American cemetery, the remains will not be excavated.

Forgotten No Longer

Forgotten No Longer

Take an in-depth look at the archaeological findings at the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon.

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Why is Archaeology at the Slave Cemetery So Important?

Despite the volumes of papers and letters that George Washington kept, we know very little about the history of the sacred wooded area thought to be the resting place for dozens of African Americans.

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Season Four Summary

Between May 2014 and the fall of 2017, archaeologists excavated a total of 211 5 x 5 ft. test units in the Slave Cemetery, and discovered 63 burial features. When combined with the seven grave shafts found in the burial ground prior to 2014, a grand total of 70 graves have been located. 

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How to Participate

Participate in the survey of the Slave Cemetery by visiting or volunteering.

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