Enslaved African Americans at the University of Virginia Walking Tour Map!

A President’s Commission on Slavery and the University (PCSU) task force dedicated to creating a historical trail has just finished work on the first phase of re-inscribing the history of slavery and the life stories of the enslaved back onto the 21st century academic landscape with completion of a walking tour map. The task force included PCSU Co-Chair and History Professor Kirt von Daacke, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Art History Professor Maurie McInnis (now the Provost at the University of Texas-Austin), and Archaeologist Ben Ford of Rivanna Archaeological Services. The task force also included UVA students Alice Burgess (2015-16 Memorial for Enslaved Laborers Chair & University Guide), Henry Hoffman (University Guide), Moses Abraham (University Guide, BSA, JUEL research staffer http://juel.iath.virginia.edu/home), and Lili Bettolo (University Guide). The task force designed the tour and crafted the text for each stop. The map’s visual design and layout was done by Charlottesville graphic designer Anne Chesnut.

This self-guided tour introduces some of the people, places, and stories related to early African American life at the University of Virginia. Between 1817 and 1865 the University relied on the labor of enslaved African Americans, whose presence was undeniably central to the building and functioning of the University of Virginia. During the building of the University from 1817 to 1825, dozens of enslaved people yearly labored on nearly all aspects of construction. Between 90 and 150 enslaved people lived and worked on Grounds after the University opened its doors to the first session for students in 1825.

The map will be available in the new Rotunda Visitor’s Center when it opens in fall 2016. View the map: UVA-Slavery Walking Tour map 2020.

-Kirt von Daacke