To be eligible to participate in the Getting Word African American Oral History Project, henceforth referred to as “the project”, you satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
(a) Be a documented direct descendant of a person or persons enslaved at Monticello and/or owned by Thomas Jefferson. Documented is defined as a demonstrable connection to a person or persons enslaved at Monticello through traditional genealogical research in public and/or private records.
(b) Be an immediate family member of a current participant of the project. Immediate family is defined as parent; sibling; child by blood, adoption, or marriage; spouse; grandparent or grandchild. Participant is defined as someone who will be/has been interviewed; or is in the process of researching their connection to a person or persons enslaved at Monticello; or is an immediate family member of someone doing the former.
(c) Be a DNA match to a person or persons with documented connections to an enslaved person or persons at Monticello. Must provide proof of this DNA connection and be able to document your relationship to the person or person with connection to an enslaved person or family at Monticello;
(d) Have credible oral history suggesting your family descends from a person or persons enslaved at Monticello;
(e) Have credible information regarding any enslaved person or family at Monticello or their direct descendants. We are also interested in information regarding Monticello overseers, white artisans, and free Black laborers and their connections between people enslaved at Monticello and on other area plantations.
Participation in Getting Word is contingent upon verification of this connection by a staff member of the Getting Word African American Oral History Project. Credibility of an oral history is subject to review by Getting Word staff, who is the final authority on participation in the project. Verifying the criterion listed above may take up to but should not exceed one (1) year. The Getting Word Oral History Project staff reserves the right to deny participation in the project if any of the above criteria is not met; if a prospective participant cannot or does not provide documentation in a timely manner; or if any documentation has been falsified.
How do I get in contact with Getting Word?
Getting Word staff is available Monday through Friday during museum hours. You can contact our staff
What information do I need to provide when I contact Getting Word for the first time?
The Getting Word project is a collaborative endeavor. It helps us when you provide the most complete and accurate information available about you or your family’s genealogy.
When you contact our staff for the first time, please give complete contact information including your telephone number, email address, and postal mailing address. We are currently most our work virtually. Complete contact information will ensure that you are added to our contact lists and kept updated on the project and your participation.
In addition to contact information, we also need as much family history as you are willing and able to share. Please provide any documentation that you have that connects you or your family to a family enslaved at Monticello or owned by Thomas Jefferson. Filling out a family tree is the easiest way to provide this information. Click the link for a free template from the National Genealogical Society.
How can I get started on my own family history research?
There are a variety of online that can help you build your family tree and start you research. Online platforms FamilySearch provide research tips and hints for information collected in your family tree. FamilySearch has also developed a helpful guide on researching African American families in VA. You can access it on their website by clicking the link.
What are the next steps?
Participation in Getting Word is contingent upon verification of your connection by a staff member of the Getting Word African American Oral History Project. Verifying a connection can be a time-consuming process. Providing complete contact information and family history shortens that process.
A Getting Word staff member will confirm that we have received your completed contact information and family history. They might reach out to resolve any follow up questions or to schedule a meeting to go over the information with you.
Getting Word staff will then invite you to continue participation in the Getting Word project or suggest other avenues for research if it is determined that there is no connection to the enslaved community at Monticello or their direct descendants.