Join the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 4:30pm for a conversation between Whitney Nell Stewart, historian and author of This is Our Home: Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations (University of North Carolina Press, 2023) and Andrew Davenport, Director of African American History & The Getting Word African American Oral History Project at Monticello. 

This event is Free; however, registration is required. Register here! The conversation will begin at 4:30pm in the reading room of the Jefferson Library, and will finish at 5:30pm. Following the discussion there will be an opportunity to purchase the book and have it signed by the author. 

Unable to join us in person? This presentation will be livestreamed on our websiteFacebook and YouTube

About the Book

The plantation remains a potent symbol of the Old South, but the reality was often far different than the romantic images some still hold. The majority of plantation residents were forced to live and labor on these sites, where violence and trauma were ever-present. Yet enslaved people did more than simply struggle to survive on plantations; they endeavored to find meaning and purpose. Across the plantation South, enslaved people struggled to transform sites of forced occupation, confinement, and slavery into something more: homes. This Is Our Home explores women, men, and children who relied on what was around them—the buildings and landscape, the household’s objects and its occupants—as they tried to fulfill their aspirations of home. They continually strove and sometimes succeeded in making their involuntary residences feel more like their own, from sweeping yards or building cabins, to hiding objects in walls or burying kin in the ground. These actions were never uncontested; white Southerners confined and challenged Black homemaking, further illuminating the contestation central to enslavement.  




About the Author

Whitney Nell Stewart is a historian of slavery and the American South. She is author of This Is Our Home: Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations (University of North Carolina Press, 2023), as well as articles in journals like Winterthur Portfolio, Journal of the Early Republic, and Journal of Social History. Stewart’s work has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities-American Antiquarian Society fellowship, as well as research and writing fellowships through the Smithsonian, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the International Center for Thomas Jefferson Studies, among others. She received her PhD from Rice University and is currently an assistant professor of history and faculty of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is also a practicing public historian and consults with institutions like the National Park Service.

About Andrew M. Davenport

Andrew M. Davenport is Director of African American History & The Getting Word Project at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University where he served as a research assistant with the Georgetown Slavery Archive. Davenport has published in Lapham’s Quarterly, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Smithsonian Magazine. His first academic article, “Ralph Ellison and New York City, 1946-1994,” appeared in Ralph Ellison in Context (ed. Paul Devlin, Cambridge University Press, 2021), and his second article, “Mourning at Monticello,” appeared in Mourning the Presidents (eds. Lindsay Chervinsky and Matthew Costello, University of Virginia Press, 2023). Davenport serves on the Board of Directors of the American Agora Foundation (Lapham’s Quarterly) and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the White House Historical Association Next-Gen Leadership Ambassadors. Davenport has taught middle school history at Brooklyn Jesuit Prep, high school history at Fairfield College Preparatory School, African American Art History at Fairfield University, and a Georgetown University course on the history of the Georgetown neighborhood. He earned a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, an M.A. in American Studies from Fairfield University, and an M.A. in U.S. History from Georgetown University.