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Black History Month

February 2023

Join us in February for Black History Month as we shine an even brighter light on our year-round African American programming. Discover these American stories of resilience and explore the lives of those that lived, loved, and strove to create a better future.

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Meet Our Nation Builders

Nation Builders portray real historic figures who lived in 18th-century Williamsburg and made a significant contribution to the American story. Travel to the 1790s, and meet a Nation Builder who helped shape their time, and whose legacy continues to influence and inspire American ideals.

Edith Cumbo

Gowan Pamphlet

James Armistead Lafayette

Plan Your Visit

The African American Experience Itinerary

During the 18th century, half of Williamsburg’s population was black. Learn more about the daily life and culture of African Virginians.

Get Started

By Their Hands

Visit the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and ask for a self-guided tour booklet to explore objects made by African American artisans on display throughout the Art Museums’ galleries, including this sideboard made in the early 19th century by free black cabinetmaker Johnathan Moss.

Learn More

BRINGING HISTORY TO LIFE

First Baptist Church Archaeology Project

Colonial Williamsburg has partnered with the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg and the Let Freedom Ring Foundation to locate the remains of the Nassau Street site of the First Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church of Williamsburg is one of the country’s earliest African American congregations and was founded by free and enslaved Black worshippers.

Williamsburg Bray School Initiative

Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary have identified a building that once housed the Williamsburg Bray School, an 18th-century institution dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children. Now, we are working to share the complex history of what is likely the oldest extant building in the United States dedicated to the education of Black children – and the stories of those who were part of it.

Take a Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour of the Randolph Site

Read Blogs

Telling Their Stories

The Enslaved Men and Women of Margaret Hunter’s Millinery

Exploring African American History Through Music

A Future and a Hope

Additional Resources

Learn even more about Black History Month by exploring these resources from both our museum and other trusted institutions.


Colonial Williamsburg publications & productions:


Online Primary Sources:


Racism &
Inequality:


Books and Articles:

  • Bly, Antonio T. “Breaking with Tradition: Slave Literacy in Early Virginia, 1680-1780.” PhD diss., College of William and Mary, 2006. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (3235685).   
  • Breen, T. H.  Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of the Great Tidewater Planters on the Eve of Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. 
  • Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.   
  • Chambers, Douglas B. Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005.  
  • Chappell, Edward A. “Housing Slavery.” In Cary Carson and Carl R. Lounsbury, eds. The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013, 156-78.    
  • Coombs, John C. “The Phases of Conversion: A New Chronology for the Rise of Slavery in Early Virginia.” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d. ser., 68, no. 3 (July 2011): 332-360.  
  • Isaac, Rhys. Landon Carter’s Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.   
  • Kern, Susan. The Jeffersons at Shadwell.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. 
  • Morgan, Edmund S. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia. New York: W. W. Norton, 1975. 
  • Morgan, Philip D. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.  
  • Mullin, Gerald W. Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972. 
  • Musselwhite, Paul, Peter C. Mancall, and James Horn.  Virginia 1619: Slavery and Freedom in the Making of English America.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. 
  • Nicholls, Michael L. “Aspects of the African American Experience in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg and Norfolk.” Unpublished research report. Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1990. 
  • Oast, Jennifer. Institutional Slavery: Slaveholding Churches, Schools, Colleges, and Businesses in Virginia, 1680–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 
  • Rowe, Linda. “Gowan Pamphlet: Baptist Preacher in Slavery and Freedom.The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 120, no. 1 (2012): 2-31.
  • Schwarz, Philip J. Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. 
  • Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. 
  • Walsh, Lorena S. From Calabar to Carter’s Grove: The History of a Virginia Slave Community. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997. 
  • Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. 
  • Willis, Anne Romberg. “The Master's Merry: Slave Prosecutions and Punishments in York County, Virginia, 1700 to 1780.” MA thesis, College of William and Mary, American Studies, 1995. 
  • Wolf, Eva Sheppard. Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.



Curated lists for further reading:



Resources in the News

  • African American Genealogical Resources
    Virginia Currents talks with Timothy Wilson on how he has uncovered 13 family trees through genealogical research despite his struggle to find records on his African American ancestors who were slaves. See how “Virginia Untold-The African American Narrative” helps African Americans connect to their past.

  • Mapping Virginia's Slave Dwellings: Preserving Black History with Street View
    In the Virginia state record, only 1% of documented historical sites are categorized as having any African-American historical significance. It’s easy to visit historic sites from the era of slavery and forget the enslaved men, women and children who built and maintained these places.
    Mapping Virginia's Slave Dwellings: Preserving Black History with Street View

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