“This is how the word is passed down,” said a descendant of Monticello’s African American community. He and other descendants have shared stories handed down over generations. Now their Monticello ancestors are “getting word” to us today about their lives, their families, and their dreams.
The Getting Word oral history project was begun at Monticello in 1993 to preserve the histories of the African American families at Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation. Over 100 interviews with their descendants and additional archival research have brought remarkable individuals out of the shadows of slavery. We can now tell the stories of people whose lives and achievements were all but erased over the last 200 years.