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About the Getting Word Project

The Getting Word oral history project at Monticello locates and records the oral histories of the descendants of Monticello's enslaved families.  This rich treasurehouse of memories over seven generations helps to expand our understanding of life at Monticello two hundred years ago.  Oral interviews are supplemented with research in newspapers, private papers, and public records.

Since 1993, Getting Word staff have traveled over 40,000 miles, interviewing descendants all over the United States, from Alabama to Ohio and Massachusetts to California.  By the beginning of 2018, over 200 people had contributed to the project by sharing their family stories, as well as photographs and memorabilia.

An exhibit on the project opened in the summer of 1997 on the occasion of the Getting Word Gathering, a weekend event that brought more than a hundred descendants of Monticello's African-American community back to the mountaintop their ancestors left over 150 years ago.  The text and images in the exhibit form the core of this web site, which has been supplemented by material published in annual Getting Word newsletters and various scholarly publications. Text is by Allen Miller, Lucia Stanton, and Dianne Swann-Wright, unless otherwise noted.

The Getting Word project, a program of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which owns and operates Monticello, has received support from the Coca-Cola Company, the Ford Foundation, the River Branch Foundation, and the Virginia Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy.

Special Thanks

We would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for their generosity in providing photographs, reproduction permission, and assistance: Albemarle County Historical Society; American Antiquarian Society; Lantz Balthazar; Shay Banks-Young; Josef Beery; Pearl Brown; Mary Ellen Butler; Cornell University Library: Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections; Cumminsville Baptist Church; Stephen DeWindt; Olivia Dutcher; Jane Feldman; Clara Fisher; Betty Ann Fitch; the late Jane A. Floyd; Nathaniel Gibbs; Beverly Gray; Teresa Hampton; Patti Jo Harding; Peggy Harrison; John Hewitt; Edna Jacques; Dr. John Q. T. King; DeAngelo McDaniel; Mason County Museum, Maysville, Kentucky; Massachusetts Historical Society; Ann P. Medley; Lillian Miles; Mrs. James C. Moyer; Diana Redman; Arneatha Roberts; the late Patricia Roberts; Richard Rose; Eva Slezak; Robert and Ronald Smith; Union Run Baptist Church; University of Virginia Library; William Webb; Julia J. Westerinen; Karen Hughes White; Mrs. James T. Wiley; Phyllis Williams; Wisconsin Historical Society; Mrs. Brown Young.

For further information, write the Getting Word project, Monticello, P. O. Box 316, Charlottesville, VA 22902; call 434-984-7507; or email the Getting Word Project.


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