FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2009
Contact: Jennifer M. Guild, Senior Officer for Public Relations and Marketing
Tel: (804) 342-9665 | Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org | Listen to the lectures
Richmond's African American History Discussed at Virginia Historical Society
Lumpkin's Slave Jail and the Negro Burial Ground are Topics of Free Conference
Richmond, VA—On Saturday, February 28, 2009, from 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., the community is invited to attend a conference about Richmond's African American history. "Hidden Things Brought to Light: Finding Lumpkin's Jail and Locating the Burial Ground for Negroes" takes place at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) and is free and open to the public.
Speakers at the half-day conference will present recent scholarship on two downtown Richmond historical sites, the Burial Ground for Negroes and Lumpkin's Slave Jail, both of which have special importance for the history of African Americans in Virginia.
"The goal of this conference is to provide a venue where members of the public can get accurate, historical information about Lumpkin's Jail and the Negro Burial Ground," said Jeffrey Ruggles, Virginia Historical Society curator of prints and photographs and author of The Unboxing of Henry Brown. "There is a lot of myth and emotion surrounding these two sites. We want people to have the correct information to start a conversation about the past and the future."
Using a selection of old maps and documents from the VHS collection, Ruggles will speak about the historical background of the Shockoe slavery sites. Matthew R. Laird, Ph.D., historian at The James River Institute for Archaeology, Inc., and principal investigator for the Lumpkin's Slave Jail dig, will discuss recent discoveries from the archaeological site. Dr. Christopher Stevenson, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, will speak about locating the Burial Ground for Negroes in the present-day landscape. Dr. Lauranett Lee, VHS curator of African American history, will moderate the event.
The Lumpkin's Slave Jail site is located west of Main Street Station, near the Interstate 95 and Broad Street interchange. An exploratory dig in 2006 found the original ground layer intact about eight feet below the surface. The 2008 dig required heavy equipment to peel away layers of paving and the foundations of later industrial structures. The excavation found the site of the jail complex, revealing a number of well-preserved features, and archaeologists collected many artifacts.
The Burial Ground for Negroes is one of the oldest cemetery sites known in the Richmond area. An 1809 map shows the African American cemetery near Broad Street and Shockoe Creek. The "Hidden Things Brought to Light" conference will look at whether the Burial Ground for Negroes extends into a parking lot owned by Virginia Commonwealth University at 16th and Broad Streets and Interstate 95.
"It is appropriate that this conference takes place during Black History Month," Ruggles said. "We need to explore this chapter of Virginia's African American history that has been hidden or overlooked for many years. With so much information coming to light within the last several months, we are now able to analyze and explore the topics in ways we might not have been able to in the past."
"Hidden Things Brought to Light" is sponsored by the Virginia Historical Society, the City of Richmond Slave Trail Commission, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. For additional information about the free conference, please visit www.vahistorical.org/news/hiddenthings.htm.
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm
and Sunday 1 pm–5p m (Museum Galleries and Shop only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Sundays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit www.vahistorical.org.