On what was once a working plantation, the paradox of slavery stands in stark relief to the ideals of liberty that Jefferson embedded in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson owned 607 men, women, and children over the course of his lifetime. Archaeologists and historians have spent more than 50 years uncovering their stories and the footprint of plantation life at Monticello. Recent restoration has further revealed the history of slavery on the mountaintop. Explore the stories of remarkable families and individuals — free and enslaved — from over seven generations, through Monticello's tours, exhibitions, digital resources and special events.
Getting Word: African American Families of Monticello For 25 years, Getting Word has been preserving the histories of the descendants of Monticello's African American community. These oral histories have informed Monticello’s tours and exhibits, and highlighted legacies of freedom and slavery in this country. Getting Word now comprises one of the largest oral history archives on slavery outside of the WPA’s Slave Narratives Collection.
The Life of Sally Hemings Sally Hemings was enslaved with her family at Monticello. She lived in Paris with Jefferson and two of his daughters from 1787 to 1789 and was the mother of at least six of Jefferson's children. Learn more in this short, historical overview.
LOOK CLOSER: Opening Weekend On June 16, in conjunction with national Juneteenth events, Monticello will unveil exhibitions and newly restored spaces, including the opening of the South Wing and The Life of Sally Hemings exhibit. This landmark conclusion of a major restoration initiative at Monticello will also commemorate 25 years of the Getting Word oral history project. Monticello will welcome the largest reunion of descendants of Monticello’s enslaved families in modern history and host an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, generously loaned by David M. Rubenstein.
Slavery at Monticello App Meet the individuals who lived and worked on Mulberry Row, once the industrial hub and center of work and domestic life for dozens of people, free and enslaved, at Thomas Jefferson’s 5,000-acre plantation.
As a result of Jefferson’s meticulous record-keeping, and more than fifty years of scholarly research by curators, historians and archaeologists, Monticello is among the most thoroughly documented, preserved and studied plantations in North America. Follow Monticello’s work on this timeline of important milestones in the research and interpretation on slavery at Monticello since the 1950s.
Monticello has piloted a program with some of the 300+ schools across the United States that bear Thomas Jefferson’s name, inviting students and teachers to learn more about Jefferson, race, slavery and leadership.
Tours and Exhibitions at Monticello
Hemings Family Tours Daily, February through November See Monticello through the lens of the Hemings Family, the best documented enslaved family in the United States.
Slavery at Monticello Tours Offered Daily Find out how the plantation operated and learn about the lives of enslaved individuals who labored to make Monticello possible. Now in its 25th year.
Crossroads Life-sized figures, archaeologically recovered objects, and interactive models of the wine dumbwaiter, "servant's" bell, and storehouse locks, give a sense of the constant interaction and domestic activity required to keep Monticello running.