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From Africa to Virginia is February Theme of Jamestown Settlement Exhibits, Tours, Lecture Series


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The history of Africans in 17th-century Virginia will be a focus of gallery exhibits, interpretive programs and a special lecture series during 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 gallery exhibits, a printed family gallery guide and during daily guided tours of the museum’s outdoor living-history areas. Three Sunday afternoon lectures at 2 p.m. February 8, 15 and 22 explore various aspects of African and African American history.

LECTURE SERIES – Free public lectures, for which reservations are recommended, include:

FEBRUARY 8: “From Sunup to Sundown: The Experiences of Africans and African Americans in Colonial Virginia” by Robert C. Watson, Hampton University Assistant Professor of History.

FEBRUARY 15: “Virginia’s Slave Trade: Who, When, Where, and How Many?” by Lorena S. Walsh, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Historian and Author.

FEBRUARY 22:  “Blacks’ Response to the Revolutionary Impulse in Norfolk and Vicinity, 1775-1781” byTommy L. Bogger, Norfolk State University Director of Harrison B. Wilson Archives.

GALLERY EXHIBITS – Visitors can use a printed guide to enhance their experience in Jamestown Settlement’s expansive galleries that chronicle the nation’s 17th-century beginnings in Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures.  Exhibits include a diorama portraying a dwelling in Angola, homeland of the first known Africans in Virginia.  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.  Artifacts from the Ambundu culture of Angola, 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.

OUTDOOR INTERPRETIVE TOURS – Guided tours of the museum’s outdoor exhibit areas – re-created Powhatan Indian village, colonial fort and replicas of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 – begin every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily during the first half of the month, and beginning February 14, at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.  February tour narratives will compare fishing and metalworking skills of Africans in Angola to technology used in 17th-century Virginia.  Tour participants will be invited to participate in role play that illuminates the circumstances of the 1619 arrival in Virginia of 20-some Africans from the kingdom of Ndongo in Angola. 

Jamestown Settlement is located at State Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, administered by APVA 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.  The “From Africa to Virginia” lecture series is free to the public. Reservations are recommended at (757) 253-4415 or rsvp.lecture@jyf.virginia.gov.

A combination ticket with the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, is $19.25 for adults, $9.25 for ages 6 through 12.  Victory Center exhibits explore the impact of the Revolution on African Americans and their role in creation of a distinctly American society.

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

For resources about Virginia’s first Africans, visit https://jyfmuseums.org/From-Africa-to-Virginia.htm.