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From Africa to Virginia is February Theme


January 12, 2010


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The culture of the first known Africans in Virginia, from the kingdom of Ndongo in Angola, and the experience of Africans in 17th-century Virginia is a focus of interpretive programs throughout the month of February at Jamestown Settlement, a history museum operated by the state’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

The theme “From Africa to Virginia” is reflected in a printed family guide of the museum’s expansive gallery exhibits and in guided tours of three outdoor living-history areas.

The galleries chronicle the nation’s 17th-century beginnings in Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures.  The parent culture of Africans brought to Virginia in 1619 is portrayed in a diorama that includes a full-scale dwelling and artifacts from the Ambundu culture of Angola.  A dramatic multimedia presentation describes African encounters with Europeans, the impact on African culture, and the development of the transatlantic slave trade.

Other exhibits tell about Virginia’s tobacco-cultivation economy and its relationship to the evolution of slavery in the colony.  A structure re-created from an archaeological site depicts a late-17th-century slave quarter alongside a planter’s house and Indian cabin, also based on Virginia archaeological sites.  Decorative objects of ivory and metal made by west central African craftspeople, and archaeologically found objects made or used by enslaved people in Virginia can be seen in the gallery exhibits.

Daily outdoor tours of Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 English ships and 1610-14 colonial fort, offered every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. February 1-12 and at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. February 13-28, compare fishing, hunting, construction and metalworking skills of Africans in Angola with technology used in 17th-century Virginia.  At the ships, tour participants will be invited to participate in role play that illuminates the circumstances of the 1619 arrival in Virginia of 20-some Africans who had been captured by English privateers from a Portuguese ship en route from Angola to Mexico.

Jamestown Settlement is located at State Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, administered by Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service, and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Admission is $14.00 for adults and $6.50 for ages 6 through 12.  A value-priced combination ticket with the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for ages 6 through 12.  Children under 6 are free, and parking is free at both museums.  Yorktown Victory Center exhibits explore the impact of the Revolution on African Americans.

For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.

Learn more about the first Africans in 17th-century Virginia with these online resources from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.