Public History and Public Memory: Talking about Slavery at Presidential Plantations

AHA Session 152
Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Thurgood Marshall North (Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level)
Jennifer Morgan, New York University
Christian Cotz, James Madison's Montpelier
Brandon Dillard, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Nancy Stetz, James Monroe's Highland

Session Abstract

Interpreters present daily the stories of enslavement and slavery to the visiting public at plantations and historic houses across the south—and occasionally beyond it. In this discussion, front-line interpreters and interpretive supervisors at four presidential plantations in Virginia (Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, and Highland) discuss the principles, training, challenges, and techniques designed to foster a more complex, difficult, and nuanced narrative of American slavery that incorporates recent research and communications training to have difficult and, at times, contentious conversations with visitors to the presidential plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.
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