Heritage

Archeologists Discover the Hidden Quarters of Thomas Jefferson's Slave Mistress

The small room had been converted into a men's bathroom in 1941.
Comments

Archeologists have uncovered the living quarters of Sally Hemings at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello mansion in Charlottesville, Virginia, NBC News reports.

Hemings was the enslaved woman who gave birth to as many as six of Jefferson's children, many historians believe.

"For the first time at Monticello we have a physical space dedicated to Sally Hemings and her life," Mia Magruder Dammann, a spokeswoman for Monticello, told NBCBLK. "It's significant because it connects the entire African American arch at Monticello."

"This discovery gives us a sense of how enslaved people were living. Some of Sally's children may have been born in this room," Gardiner Hallock, director of restoration for Jefferson's mountaintop plantation, told NBC News. "It's important because it shows Sally as a human being—a mother, daughter, and sister—and brings out the relationships in her life."

THE ROOM AT MONTICELLO THAT WILL BE RESTORED AS THE RESIDENCE OF SALLY HEMINGS.

While Hemings' room, which was only 14 feet and 8 inches wide by 13 feet long, was located near Jefferson's own bedroom, it went undiscovered for decades because it had been converted into a men's bathroom in 1941—a slight that has not gone unnoticed by many.

"I am appreciative of the work that my colleagues are doing at Monticello because this is an American story, an important story," Gayle Jessup White, Monticello's Community Engagement Officer and a great-great-great-great niece of Sally Hemings, told NBC News. "But for too long our history has been ignored. Some people still don't want to admit that the Civil War was fought over slavery. We need to face history head-on and face the blemish of slavery and that's what we're doing at Monticello."

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Historians eventually figured out where the room was located after studying a description from one of Jefferson's grandsons who said that Hemings' room was located somewhere in Monticello's South Wing.

According to Fraser Neiman, director of archaeology at Monticello, they were able to uncover the original brick hearth and fireplace in Hemings' room, as well as the brick structure for a stove and original flooring from the early 19th century.

"This room is a real connection to the past," Neiman said. "We are uncovering and discovering and we're finding many, many artifacts."

Heming's rooms will eventually be restored for public viewing as part of the $35-million Mountaintop Project which aims to restore Monticello to how it was during Jefferson's days. By doing so they also hope to tell the stories of everyone, both enslaved and free, who lived and worked at Monticello.

From: Country Living

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Lyndsey Matthews
View Other Articles From Lyndsey Matthews
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
The future looks bright with these limited edition zodiac flats.
 
Share
It's all about health and sustainability this year.
 
Share
Otherwise known as the goods that are never not in our medicine cabinets.
 
Share
Flyspaces allows you to book a spot online in over 500 co-working spaces in Manila.
 
Share
 
Share
Some of your most frequently asked questions about using your credit card abroad.
 
Share
"His legacy will live on for many more generations after us."
 
Share
A leading Italian mixologist makes the argument for liqueurs in fine dining.
 
Share
Suddenly everyone you know is heading to New Zealand. Here's why people are planning their move today.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US