New Monticello Exhibit Explores Sally Hemings’ Legacy

By Sameer Rao Jun 14, 2018

Virginia plantation turned museum and presidential library Monticello explores the story of Sally Hemings—the enslaved Black woman whom President Thomas Jefferson treated as his concubine—in a new exhibit that opens to the public on Saturday (June 16).

The Washington Post reported yesterday (June 13) that The Life of Sally Hemings centers around a small room, embedded in the estate’s vast grounds, that Monticello historians believe Hemings and her family occupied. The exhibit features various multimedia and text components that tell the story of Hemings, who was forced to bear six of the president’s children. 

The new exhibit marks the culmination of the Mountaintop Project, an initiative to chronicle the stories of the people who lived on the 5,000-acre plantation—especially the Black enslaved people who were forced to work in its fields and facilities. The first phase involved the restoration of Mulberry Row, where many of them lived and worked. Saturday’s opening will include a gathering of people whose ancestors were enslaved at Monticello.