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Jillian Atkin Sim

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Jillian Sim and her daughter, Olivia

Jillian Sim and her daughter, Olivia

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Jill Sim holding photographs of her great-grandmother and great-uncle, among the first African American graduates of Vassar and MIT, respectively
Courtesy of Jane Feldman

Jill Sim holding photographs of her great-grandmother and great-uncle, among the first African American graduates of Vassar and MIT, respectively 

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Jillian Sim's son Harrison

Jillian Sim's son Harrison

Dates alive: 
1969–
Residence (at time of interview): 
Covesville, VA

Jillian Sim, a writer and mother of two, was raised in the white world. Her grandmother, Ellen Love, an actress, told her many family stories heard from her mother, Anita Hemmings Love. She mentioned connections to Jefferson and an English sea captain, but never spoke of descent from enslaved people. Jill Sim learned of her African American ancestry only after her grandmother’s death in 1994. She published an account of her discovery in American Heritage, which tells the story of Anita Hemmings, who made headlines around the world in 1897 when it was revealed that she was passing for white at Vassar College.

Jill Sim believes, but cannot yet say with certainty, that she is descended from Elizabeth Hemings’s son Peter Hemings, a Monticello cook and brewer who worked as a tailor after he became free in 1827, purchased by a relative at the Monticello estate sale.

Interview Information: 

1 Nov. 2000, Charlottesville, VA
Interviewees: Jillian Sim, Allen Sim

Excerpts: 
Ancestry: 
Related People: 

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