Quarters of Confinement, Yet Places of Community—Virginia’s Architecture of Slavery

The Alexandria Historical Society and the Office of Historic Alexandria present a lecture by Douglas Sanford, Professor Emeritus of Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Dr. Sanford will discuss research outcomes for the Virginia Slave Housing Project, a long-term effort to document, interpret, and preserve slave-related buildings across the state. While cabins and quarters represented white attempts to control aspects of enslaved African Americans’ lives, these occupants altered the structures’ interiors and yards to their own ends, finding ways to foster families and their own society. Drawing upon surviving buildings, period documents, and archaeological evidence, Sanford will address such issues as common types of slave housing, slave household composition, and ongoing interpretive efforts to increase public awareness of American slavery. A portion of the talk will concern the study of slavery and slave housing in Alexandria, particularly given the relative neglect of urban, as compared to plantation, contexts for these topics.