Despite the horrors of slavery, African Americans forged enduring family and community connections, and cultural and spiritual practices. The Contemplative Site is a space to reflect upon their lives and legacies.

Thomas Jefferson held at least 607 people in bondage. The site’s 60-foot long steel wall lists their known names. Blank spaces ensure that new names can be added as we learn more.

The Names

Explore the lives of the men, women, and children listed at Contemplative Site through the Monticello Enslaved Community Database, which includes information on family relationships, work, birth/death dates, and more.

About the Contemplative Site Project

Located in an area Jefferson called the "Grove," the site is centered on a 60-foot long steel structure pierced with the names of the 607 men, women, and children known to have been enslaved by Jefferson.

Getting Word

The Getting Word African American Oral History Project preserves the histories of Monticello’s enslaved families and their descendants. 


The Contemplative Site is located in an area Jefferson designed as a wooded, ornamental landscape and called the “Grove” at the western end of the Monticello mountaintop. The site features a recreated Jefferson-era “1-in-10” road that once ran nearby. Enslaved people moved along this road to access the North Spring, an important water source.

We thank the following supporters for their generous contributions to the Contemplative Site project: Ronald and Sandra Kossar, Fritz and Claudine Kundrun, Americana Foundation, HGA, Values Partnerships, and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

Thomas Jefferson and Slavery

Thomas Jefferson called slavery a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,” but continued to hold human beings as property his entire adult life.