Presidential plantations – are they leaving out slavery when telling the story of America’s history?

Presidential plantations – are they leaving out slavery when telling the story of America’s history?

October 20, 20212 min read

The presidential plantations once belonging to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe are picturesque destinations for tourists who want to learn more about these Founding Fathers from Virginia. But these museums often fail to adequately tell the stories of the enslaved people who lived and toiled there. UMW Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna's research on the topic was recently highlighted in Northern Virginia Magazine. 

Do plantation museums do justice to the memory of the enslaved? Local professor Stephen Hanna wanted to find out, so in 2014 he joined a team of researchers associated with TourismRESET, a world-wide network of scholars who study and challenge social inequity in tourism.

Hanna, who teaches geography at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, received a grant from the National Science Foundation, enabling him to lead undergraduate students through multi-year research on how narratives and exhibits about enslaved populations and slavery were presented or absent at 15 different plantation sites. The goal was to present their findings to museum managers and thus facilitate more historically accurate and meaningful tours. His team is in the final stages of publishing a book summarizing their data and findings, to be released in March 2022.

The full article is attached below and is well worth the complete read.

If you are a journalist covering this critical topic about American history, then let us help with your questions and stories. Dr. Hanna is available to speak with media regarding this topic. Simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.

Connect with:
  • Stephen Hanna
    Stephen Hanna Professor of Geography

    Dr. Hanna's research in cultural geography explores how our pasts are represented in monuments and museums.

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